Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were first used together four games into the season at home to Southampton. Brought in over the summer, Mustafi was always going to be first choice but the speed in which he has settled has been astounding.
Upon signing his Arsenal contract I profiled Mustafi, writing about his wealth of experience and confident playing style; I posed the question about a consolidated place in the starting lineup for Mustafi and the German has answered emphatically. In his nine games for Arsenal thus far he has conceded only five goals, kept five clean sheets and remained unbeaten. All nine of his games have been alongside Laurent Koscielny.
The stand-in Captain and the newly acquired German wasted no time in proving their worth as a defensive partnership, displaying their strengths from the get-go. The pair work effectively because of their similarities; anticipation, interceptions, incisive forward passing and aerial ability, an intelligent yet aggressive style of defensive play.
Speaking to the official club website , Mustafi reiterated these points. “We are quite similar in the style of playing, he understands things that I do, I understand things that he does. If you play with someone who understands football in a different way, it’s even more difficult to get on with.” Both Mustafi and Koscielny form the building blocks to Arsenal’s style and success, defending astutely and passing with purpose. In recent games Mustafi has, on occasion, pushed up to help distribute the ball from midfield areas aswell as keeping the opposition at bay.
With five clean sheets in their last six games Koscielny and Mustafi are consistently displaying their worth. Theo Walcott has recently spoken out about the defensive unit acting as a base, solidifying the team and allowing the attack to flow. The building blocks of Arsenal may be newly constructed and the longevity questioned but the talent and progressiveness of the pair is evident for all to see.
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