Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi was at the centre of criticism from BBC Sport pundit Martin Keown following his display in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw against Norwich City on Sunday.
The German centre-back was making his first Premier League appearance of the season as Freddie Ljungberg made his bow as Arsenal’s interim head coach – though Keown berated the issues that face the Swede in light of a poor defensive showing.
Mustafi saw Teemu Pukki’s shot deflect off him into the Arsenal net to give the hosts the lead, before granting Todd Cantwell far too much space to manoeuvre his effort that restored the Canaries’ advantage before the break.
Speaking on Match of the Day 2, former Gunners defender Keown was less than impressed.
He said (via Football.london): “There is no magic wand and it certainly wasn’t there today. The problems that were there before the last manager are still there.
“Mustafi let his opponent run nearly 65 yards. I’d be like a rash there against my opponent. You have to get up to the ball.
“Because he sits off, he gets hurt badly [for the goal] and it’s in the back of the net.
“Mustafi might as well have been in an athletics race. He was staying in his lane. People were too passive. They need to be aggressive and come up to the ball.”
Given Keown insisted the Gunners’ defensive concerns were present under Arsene Wenger, his comments regarding Ljungberg’s inability to solidify Arsenal’s backline having only taken over on Friday are essentially meaningless.
However, his criticism of Mustafi may be justified given the manner of Norwich’s goals, which saw the defender unable to get anywhere near the eventual goalscorers on both occasions.
The fact that it was his first appearance in the league is not an excuse for the 27-year-old, either – with Mustafi playing in all seven of Arsenal’s cup games this season to date, keeping a clean sheet in three of those.
Therefore, with the experience of 84 Premier League appearances prior to the weekend, Keown would be forgiven for expecting a better performance from Mustafi, who was clearly not up to scratch on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal fans, is Mustafi to blame for yesterday’s draw? Let us know in the comments below!
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