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‘Nobody makes errors because they want to’ - Mustafi reflects on becoming an Arsenal ‘target’

14:44 WAT 16/01/2020
Shkodran Mustafi Arsenal 2019-20
The German defender, who is being linked with a January move elsewhere, admits to having turned a deaf ear to those who continue to write him off

Shkodran Mustafi feels he has been unfairly singled out for criticism at times, with the Arsenal defender being forced to turn a deaf ear to his critics as he and the club seek consistency in 2020.

The German defender has become a scapegoat for those eager to point the finger of blame at Emirates Stadium.

He concedes that his standards have dipped, but concedes that “nobody makes errors because they like to”.

It could be that Mustafi opts to walk away from the spotlight in north London, amid ongoing struggles for game time and mounting transfer talk, but he remains committed to the cause for now.

He told Arsenal’s official website on the difficulties he has endured on and off the field of late: “Did I feel like a target at times? I wouldn't say a target because it's very hard if you say that.

“I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world. But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame. 

“It gets a little bit frustrating to read those comments but at the end of the day, you have to be professional and I tried to be as professional as I can. Sometimes you read comments and you really disagree, and you want to say something but then you just leave it because you want to stay professional. 

“The next day you've got training so you've just got to take all that energy and just use it on training and trying to improve yourself, rather than just on social media.

“This season I've been playing mainly in the Europa League and the cup competitions, so I've focused just on doing my job and trying to produce things that the coaching staff ask for me to do on the pitch to show that I'm ready for the team. No matter what's going on, I've just been trying to work and become the player that I was before - and better.

“I just put my head down when all the criticism came at me and worked hard. I just closed my ears and focused on the work, and I think the fans kind of appreciated that. I just worked my socks off to come back again. 

“I think the fans have seen in the last few games that I've played that I'm someone who has always tried to give everything on the pitch. Of course, I made mistakes like everyone else makes because we are professionals but we are humans first. “

Mustafi added: “Nobody makes errors because they like to, it's just something that happens. I've always wanted to win and give everything for Arsenal, for my team-mates. I think they appreciate that. 

“Next for me and the club is to bounce back. At the moment things are not going the way we want them to go. It's going to be tough but I think we have the mental strength and the quality as a team to bounce back and to win the games we need to. 

“It's a bit like it was in my situation where for me, things were not going very well. We just need to stay united as a team, a club, with our fans. The people who want the best for Arsenal, we have to stay united and bounce back together. 

“It's the only way we're going to improve. It's not a time to point fingers at each other, we have to work together to bounce back and hopefully we're going to enjoy the rest of the season.”

Arsenal have taken in a turbulent 2019-20 campaign, which has delivered a 10th place standing in the Premier League and a change in the dugout, but former club captain Mikel Arteta is being backed to get them heading in the right direction again during what is the first managerial role of his career.