Shkodran Mustafi Back in Business for Arsenal

Arsenal, Shkodran Mustafi (Photo by Justin Tallis/Pool via Getty Images)
Arsenal, Shkodran Mustafi (Photo by Justin Tallis/Pool via Getty Images) /

This was a bit left-field, but welcome nonetheless.

Off the back of Rob Holding’s hamstring injury, the central defender who appeared closest to returning to the first team fold was Pablo Mari, although an update from Arsenal has offered fresh, surprising insight.

Rumoured to be around for near the four week mark, Arsenal have since lessened fears by confirming Holding will be out of action for three weeks. Mari, who has been training with a ball for the first time in four months, is over a week away from full training.

Then there is Shkodran Mustafi – who looked like being ‘back on top’ in and around the international break – being confirmed to be available for selection. News most excellent, it must be said.

Not that we’ve missed Mustafi all that much. Well, not of late anyway since Gabriel Magalhaes has waltzed his way into the startling lineup like the elegant, dependable wonderful man he is. But when you’re left with just him and David Luiz, our Brazilian duo can breathe a sigh of relief.

Luiz more so than Gabriel, who is hardly a spring chicken at 33. Fatigue doesn’t often seep into his game, one that relies mostly on efficiency without needless floating about, but it is a lot to ask of him to play twice a week.

How long will it take for Mustafi to feel the brunt of supporters’ despair when he goes to ground too early? Perhaps not long when you factor in that he’s been out of action for roughly 100 days. Precious few, no matter how exceptional they may be, come back into the fold with immediate assurance in each department. He’ll need time to readjust.

What Mustafi is under Mikel Arteta, however, is better. Better in the sense he is nowhere near as calamitous as he was, but not better in the sense he’s suddenly a world beater.

Getting injured prior to the FA Cup semi-final brought upon genuine concern, as it’s hard to argue a case against him being the most improved player of last season – perhaps only shadowed by Granit Xhaka.

Next. EL Stars. dark

That late season form he demonstrated will be needed for Arsenal ahead of a tricky set of fixtures, even if he was one of the players tipped to leave last summer. Not too much should be expected of him, but a centre-back version of Cedric wouldn’t go amiss.