Shkodran Mustafi Arsenal 2019/20

Mustafi: Arsenal must forget about the table and focus on improving

Shkodran Mustafi has told his team-mates to forget about the league table and focus on continuing to improve under Mikel Arteta.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace left the Gunners 10th in the Premier League, 10 points off fourth-placed Chelsea and eight points above the relegation zone.

Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night knowing victory would see them move within seven points of the Champions League places, but whilst refusing to give up on a late assault on the top four, Mustafi says the priority must be on building on the improvements they have shown since Arteta was appointed last month.

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“It is a game that you can come a little bit closer with,” said the German centre-back. “I think when you are first or second in the league, you always want to look at the table and you enjoy looking at the table, but I think at the moment it is not important to look at the table.

“For us, it is important to just work, try to put on the training ground and in games the things we get told from the boss.

“I feel that everyone is trusting him and the idea that he has, which is that he wants to play football. That is something that is very important and now it is all about trying to do it for 90 minutes.”

Mustafi added: “The team’s goals are to win games. We have a lot of games still to go and at the end of the day you will see where you will end up.

“Of course, from the beginning of the season you have everything in your hands because then everyone starts with zero points. But at the moment we do not have everything in our hands. The only thing we have in our hands is to go from game to game and try to win the games.

“Then when the teams above us drop points we can be lucky enough to maybe overtake them. But we have to concentrate and focus on things that we have in our own hands, and that’s only our games that we are playing.”

Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2019-20Getty

Arteta has made an impact at Arsenal since taking over from interim boss Freddie Ljungberg last month, but the Spaniard has still only overseen one league win in his first four games.

Winning positions have been let slip against Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United, with the one victory coming against Manchester United on New Year's Day.

Musatfi felt Arsenal deserved more against the Blades on Saturday, however, and has credited Arteta for bringing a clarity in thinking to a squad that had been left confused under Unai Emery.

“It is important to have him [Arteta] because he knows exactly what this team needs,” said the World Cup winner.

“Arsenal has always been a team that wants to play football, that wants to play with personality. That is exactly what he wants and I think he has done a good job putting the team together as every player knows what he is doing.

“At times in the previous games, we had a little bit of a problem where we were out there and we struggled a little bit with our structure. Since he came in we are very well structured.”

Mustafi added: “It is football. It is not tennis when everyone can do whatever they want. Just because you have 11 or 18 individually good players does not mean it is going to work. For us, it was important to get someone in like Mikel that knows exactly what he wants from each player in each position.

“I think this is the way we can perform only when someone like him comes in and tells us exactly what he wants and stick to the plan. It does not matter against who we face, we play our game and I think that is the most important thing when you go out and you know exactly what you have to do.

"It makes everything a lot easier.”