Why Mustafi cannot play on Saturday
Following weeks of having to endure the misery of being without enough new faces while rivals like Manchester United and Chelsea hold parties for their latest arrivals, the landing of Shkodran Mustafi was one that anyone associated with Arsenal could not wait to see.
However, we cannot let the excitement of this new addition overshadow the bigger picture which is the safety of our usually brittle squad in what will be another demanding season. From an analogical view, that would be the equivalent of a child spilling a drink he just received from his mother after being thirsty for so long.
Mustafi was hardly racking up the minutes at Valencia so far this season because he was still not considered to be fully fit after returning from Euro 2016 with an adductor problem. Yes, the 24-year-old was fit enough to pass his Arsenal medical last week but even Germany’s head coach Joachim Low refused to gamble on Mustafi’s fitness during the international break by keeping him on the bench despite the absence of Jerome Boateng.
Within a week or two, the former La Liga star is likely to be back at his standard level of fitness and that he is when Arsene Wenger should be calling upon him. Knowing Arsenal’s horrendous luck when it comes to injuries – especially when non-fully fit players are risked – it would not be stunning at all to see our new defender pick up a concerning knock if he were to be rushed into the starting eleven to face Southampton this weekend.
To be pragmatic more so than pessimistic, very few would then expect Arsenal’s questionable medical staff to help heal Mustafi any soon if he was to pick up an ‘unexpected’ problem this weekend. That is why we have to play it safe for now, with only a few games into the new campaign, and hand our new man some space in the dug-out before he picks up a new case in the treatment room.
With that being said, Rob Holding, the man whom Mustafi is likely to replace in Wenger’s team, has barely put a foot wrong to warrant being dropped. The young defender is picking up some vital lessons at the moment as he flourishes alongside Koscielny and we must let that continue.
After all, in the absence of Koscielny or Mustafi, Holding would be the next man to call upon. If that is the case, then why can we not let the 20-year-old build up as much experience as possible while he can before he returns to the bench? He will then be best equipped to step in and deliver when we do need him again during an injury crisis in the future.
Thus, keeping Mustafi on the bench this weekend would help the German’s fitness while helping Holding’s progress and confidence.