Mustafi Knack: Come in Mr Holding, Your Time is Now

It’s been a while since the international break wrought havoc over a season so Shkodran Mustafi pulling up with an unidentified knack was a return to the old days. This was a proper return to the old days, not the Mike Pence’s version. When the US vice-president posts photos from three or four years ago to pass them off as being at an event yesterday, you wonder if they want to ‘out-buffoon’ Boris Johnson.

Mustafi’s injury is ‘old skool’ Arsenal.

“With Mustafi it seems that it is some muscle tear or some muscle fibre tear,” came Joachim Löw’s medical update. “In any case it could force him to a longer break,” he added with a shrug of his shoulders which let the world know it wasn’t his problem.

Therein is the rub. We’ve borrowed your lawnmower but it’s not working properly; can you fix it so that next time I want to use it, it’s working properly?

News of Mustafi’s injury caused much hand-wringing. Amid the cries of “Woe! Woe! And thrice woe!”, the German is now considered an integral and irreplaceable member of the team. Who knew? This can’t be the same Mustafi who Wenger was happy to sell in the summer because he wasn’t as good as he thought, surely?

Or is it just because it’s Arsenal and we’re a bunch of old drama queens?

The immediate concern is not Mustafi per se but Koscielny. His Achilles injury is not a new problem, it’s flared up for years. Surprisingly, the club didn’t elect for him to be operated on during the non-tournament summer. Now, it’s kept him out of the French squad – no bad thing from an Arsenal perspective – but he’s a doubt for the trip to Watford.

We’re not blessed with depth in the centre of the defence or maybe experience is the issue.

You Put Your Left Back In, Your Centre Back’s Out

Calum Chambers is so hip his hurts but is expected to be fit for Saturday and could make his first Premier League start of the season. I doubt it. Rob Holding is Mustafi’s replacement and if Koscielny’s out as well, Mertesacker returns to the side. Then there’s Mohammed Elney at which point you wonder if the list of centre backs is best described as “everyone but Chambers”.

It would be surprising if it is. Middlesbrough gave him good reports, England Under-20s saw good performances en route to winning the World Cup this summer; there’s a talented defender in there screaming to get out. We’re quick in the stands to criticise.

There’s a mythical view that we always gave youngsters a chance in the past but like so much surrounding the club, it’s a romantic view of the truth. The reality is that we didn’t have the multitude of views at our fingertips; in those days, it was more a case of the voices around you in the stadium and in the bars. Not an electronic echo chamber but an echo chamber nonetheless.

Where we’ve got to see an improvement is in the use of the squad. Putting two left backs into the centre of the defence was an unmitigated disaster which cost us dear. Kolasinac in his favoured position as left wing-back is phenomenal. We have able deputies for injured first choice centre backs; we won the FA Cup last season with a reshuffled defence so winning Premier League matches is well within their capabilities.

That’s What it’s all About!


Concerns abound about the next international break and how we’re going to need to rotate the squad may prove premature. As things stand, Wales are on the cusp of elimination. Ranked second bottom of the ‘second place’ teams, they aren’t guaranteed a play-off place unless they beat the Republic.

Draw and they are out. Ramsey like most, if not all, the squad is then involved in friendlies for their countries in November. I think Xhaka is the only other player who could find himself in the UEFA play-offs, if Switzerland lose in Lisbon.

Alexis and Chile? Well, the South American play-offs are so mad at the moment that if Peru v Colombia finishes in a draw while Argentina win their game, then defeat in Brazil eliminates Chile. Having been the horse that everyone flogged during his time at Arsenal, gets a summer off just as he leaves. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Those are permutations which will be resolved in the next few days. To be honest, we know that the squad can  just as easily be decimated in training; I’ll pass on worrying about anything beyond Watford right now.

I’ll close today with a reminder that over at Dad’s Jukebox, you can view the Records of the Week in under 140 Characters with a new post set for later this evening.

’til Tomorrow

24 thoughts on “Mustafi Knack: Come in Mr Holding, Your Time is Now

  1. Jonny says:

    Morning peeples.

    Thank goodness we are, at least, over the hump of the international break – what a dour exercise in tedium they are – especially when one (notionally) supports England.

  2. Orson Kaert says:

    Good morning all, well Yogi and Jonny actually, has nobody else has emerged from slumberland yet?

    If we’re short of centre backs we can always revert to a back four.

    Mustafi was injured playing in a meaningless friendly, they’re just as dangerous as the real thing.

  3. Henryb says:

    I enjoyed a relaxed and contemplative Post, Yogi.

    Apparently Mustafi’s injury is possibly ligament damage – if so that could be a few weeks out.

  4. DALM says:

    Please – as a Wales fan the very, very many years of standing outside, looking through the sweetshop window have been excruciating……

    On the other hand watching our much vaunted engerlsish cousins flatter to deceive by cantering through the group stage only stumble once there is ‘proper’ opposition, is always most entertaining.

  5. Orson Kaert says:

    Actually I don’t see the shortage of centre backs is a problem, Wenger has played full backs there, he’s played midfielders there, why stop at that? Theo needs some game time, give him a try alongside Merts it may resurrect his England career.

  6. Orson Kaert says:


    Not as entertaining as watching the Welsh expectations wither and die after so much early optimism.

  7. Wailesy says:

    Cheers Yogi,

    We’re definitely a bunch of old drama queens.

  8. YW says:


    Thought Mustafi was injured in Germany’s final qualifier?

  9. HenryB says:

    FIFA are saying that the international break will be reduced to two breaks at this time of year — Hooray —- but for twice as long — Booo

    What was wrong with the smaller nations clobbering each other until a couple of the better ones emerged to take part in an abbreviated knockout round? Hmm?

    Nothing is the answer — and it stopped the humiliation of some of the 10 : 0 shorelines which helps no country.

    However, back we go to politics. “Vote for my re-election to FIFA/UEFA – and I will extend the play-offs so you small fry can pretend you are actually in the World Cup against the big boys Deutschland, Spain and France — instead of eliminating the other little guys like Scotland and Wales.”

    I am sure none of that sort of chicanery has happened – obviously – as FIFA/UEFA’s management are beyond reproach.

  10. andy1886 says:


    I’d rather watch Wales TBH and hope that they make it. England are likely to put in their usual pathetic performances, so much so that being made to watch them could be an alternative to a community service order.

  11. HenryB says:

    Hi Andy,

    Luckily for me I would refuse to make any such choice – both are frequently execrable.

    I am an Anglophile and enjoy (mostly) supporting English teams in athletics/swimming, cricket, rugby league, rugby union etc — but I draw the line at the footie, even tho I do watch them when they qualify for the Euros or the World Cup in the vain hope ‘this could be the one’.

    Mind you – that is possibly down, in part, to the England team being mainly composed of the leading lights of other Premier League clubs – and most of those I think are crap or over-hyped.

  12. buckagh says:

    Score draw will secure play off tie for Wales this evening.
    Zero minutes watched in this interlull have I missed anything?

  13. Orson Kaert says:


    Your are of course correct Yogi, but a five one win against a team like Azerbaijan can hardly be considered competitive.

  14. Wavey says:

    Afternoon all,

    We could play Theo at RWB and have Bellerin as the right CB. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

  15. Jonny says:

    Quite, well the Overmars story is hardly from a reliable source and doesn’t even suggest much of a clue as to what exact role he would be taking. 🙂

  16. Jonnygunner says:

    Slow on the comments today YW……fuckin’ freeloaders on your blog 😂😂

  17. C says:

    Sorry mates, took the weekend off. I come back and fucking Mustafi is injured( funny I banged all summer about how stupid it was to sell Szczesny and Gabriel and was told I waz wrong yet GK’ing has been a problem and Mustafi, Kos amd Chambers are all now injured) and when Wales needed Ramsey to come up big with Bale out to make thr World Cup he was the average player he is for Arsenal, capable of moments of brilliance but is meh for the most part just has a brilliant engine that goes with the blood and guts that most that follow the PL rate so highly.

    Luckily PL futbol comes back this weekend.

  18. C says:

    Iwobi waa superb though from what I have seen and read.

  19. C says:

    Overmars as DoF, I’ll believe it when I see it

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