Per Got Lucky?

It became official that Arsenal took up the option in the German’s contract for a further year contract extension until 2018. It was a welcomed news for some Gooners-me inclusive, and a total thumbs down for others. Per has had some up and down during his stay so far at North London, but none  can deny his attitude and passion for the game and for Arsenal. He has his short comings which is mostly lack of pace. The world cup winner would have been the perfect central defender if he could chase down a player much quicker than he most often does. 

Many of our fans would rather Arsène let him go and use the extra cash taking him (and other dead woods; in their opinion:Ramsey, Jenkinson, Sanogo etc) off the wage bill would generate to give Alexis and Özil whatever they are asking for. For a lay man, it makes sense, bearing in mind that we have more than adequate cover in central defence; Mustafi, Koscielny, Gabriel and Holding. However, looking at it from Arsène’s point of view, Mertesacker is a world class defender whose positional and tactical reading of the game is second to none, hence should be a role model to the younger defenders and also lend his voice in the dressing room. For player whose pace my granny can match, to survive in EPL, playing for a top club like Arsenal; he must be doing other things apart that people are reluctant to see. His ball services from deep are some midfielders dream.

“My love for this club is authentic. I care a lot about team-mates, about fans, and I want people to identify with us. It’s very important to me now and it always has been. I feel like there’s always been a link between myself and Arsenal.”
– Per

These younger defenders need a great player with experience to learn from. He’s a fine role model and keeps other players grounded in the dressing room. So it’s no brainer that Arsène decided to keep him for another year.

Today we play Burnley at the Emirates stadium. It’s a good opportunity to catch up on other top teams. Liverpool lost at home to guess who? Swansea. That same Swansea that some pundits didn’t think they deserved to be in EPL because we cracked them inside their backyard. Shame on biased punditry. Manchester United dropped points too, so did Manchester city and Tottenham. What a weekend it’s going to be if we manage to nick all 3 points. Here is to a perfect weekend! Go get the points Arsenal! COYG!!

Fair Play Gooner.

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Shkodran Mustafi; The Defender Arsenal Lacked?

                   #MustafiSigns 30/08/16

I must confess, I was not a fan of the German ever. I actually heard his name for the first time when his transfer rumours broke during the summer break. A quick dash to Google revealed that he was an Everton reject, played for a club in Seria A before moving to Valencia. My heart sank. I expected a player that’s at least 6 feet tall, with a better pedigree and not so expensive. Instead we were linked to a Mustafi that have not played for a top club, I mean top top club; isn’t even remotely imposing-height wise- and Valencia were demanding an arm.

Why Arsène was forced to dip into his transfer war chest was because of Gabriel’s injury during the last matches of pre-season. Per Mertesacker, who until his injury last season was a regular in the Arsenal team, also had an injury during the pre-season. Hence the Central defence position was very short. I expected Arsène not to buy a new player if Gabriel didn’t get injured, especially after pulling off a coup with Rob Holding from Bolton wanderers for £2m. For me that represented a very intelligent deal.

For over 10 years, after the Invincible, Arsenal never replaced the CB position with a fast, strong, tall, ball playing CB who is not injury prone and isn’t afraid to get stuck. I dare say Sol Campbell was the last central defender of that mould that Arsenal had. William Gallas was a good centre back but could not put in a straight 10 matches without pulling a hamstring, and then was the very big problem of pace. He couldn’t run to stay alive. Squillaci was a disaster. Djourou couldn’t cut it out and Vermalaene was undone by injuries. Per was the closest we ever came to a complete defender, save for his snail pace which teams had capitalised in the past to punish Arsenal time and time again.

At £35m, Mustafi had a hefty price tag on himself moving to North London. He is the most expensive defender Arsenal ever bought. At 24 years of age and with the crazy amount of money being thrown around by clubs in Europe, I would say he was a bargain; considering John stone went for £50m. Since his arrival, he’s lived up to the hype and has justified the heavy price we paid for him by producing stellar performances every week since the opening day of this campaign to silence and win over his critics. He is yet to lose in 15 matches.

  • Played 15 
  • Won 10
  • Drew 5

It represents a very good return from a player who didn’t have a chance for a mid table club in England 4 years ago. He is good on the ball, aggressive and has pace to chase down strikers. He also doesn’t shy away from aeriel duel even though he’s not a six footer. Shkodran represents the complete defender Arsenal have missed for many years. He’s made the difference unlike conceding silly goals like we did at white Hart lane last season when Per Mertesacker was out ran by Harry Kane to score from a low pressure routine cross. With Mustafi at the back with his partner in crime Koscielny, we are really hard to beat these days. 

I hope that his unbeaten run and fine performance at the heart of our defence will continue for the remainder of this season. Safe to say that at this rate, we are genuine title contenders this season. Here is to great things to come from Shkodran Mustafi. #Comeonyougooners.

-Fair Play Gooner