Arsenal: Shkodran Mustafi getting unwarranted Granit Xhaka treatment

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Alvaro Morata of Chelsea and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal battle for possession during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Alvaro Morata of Chelsea and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal battle for possession during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal’s defense is massively better with Shkodran Mustafi back there than without, let’s stop giving him the Granit Xhaka treatment for no reason.

There was a massive decision to be made in Arsenal’s win over West Brom, and it happened when Shkodran Mustafi laid an ill-advised slide tackle on Jay Rodriguez. The Baggies’ striker went to ground but got right back up and had himself a shot and missed.

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It was a penalty, no doubt. And yeah, Tony Pulis may have a gripe with that. But it’s not like the Gunners haven’t seen far worse ignored.

In response, though, there has been a pretty loud chorus of criticism for Mustafi. Not just for that tackle, but for the season as a whole. People have called for him to be dropped and it has my head spinning.

What sense does that make? It has been the tale of two defenses this year for Arsenal – the defense with Mustafi and the defense without. It is split three games to three. In the three matches without Mustafi, they have surrendered seven goals. In the three games with him, they’ve surrendered just one.

Not just that, but have we already forgotten how stoic Mustafi was against Chelsea? The guy placed Alvaro Morata deep in his pocket, just like he had done last year in his first ever match up against the Blues with Diego Costa.

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The following week, Morata hit a hat trick. Mustafi completely voided Morata at Stamford Bridge and people are calling for him to be replaced because of one poor tackle.

It’s the Granit Xhaka treatment all over again. There were matches last year where Xhaka would have himself a solid outing with brilliant passing and tremendous composure, but one little mishap, whether it be an errant pass or a poor tackle, would earn him an honorary position on the sh!t list for what was dubbed a ‘horrid’ performance.

To me, it’s downright silly. What’s the point of playing the full 90 fully up to standards if you are going to be judged for only two seconds of that 90?

This kind of fits into the Mesut Ozil debate too. Those who defend Ozil say that you have to appreciate the things he does do and let go of the things he doesn’t. It’s just the kind of player he is. But that too, seems rather silly, doesn’t it?

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Mustafi is a stalwart on that back line. One or two mishaps doesn’t change that.