Shock Horror … Mustafi is a Good Defender ….

…. it must be true, the stats prove it!

With only three days to go until the transfer window closes, many supporters want to see players leaving as well as arriving. For many, Mustafi is top of the list to be shown the door.

With this in mind and to add some balance, I decided to take a look at his stats and compare them with other defenders..  I chose his teammate Sokratis; the world’s most expensive defender (Harry Maguire) and the best defender in the EPL – all of whom you might expect to shine in comparison.

The figures are supplied by The Premier League.


We all know the old adage about lies and statistics and this is by no means a definitive comparison. You would need to factor in the success rate of the team and other criteria to be objective  – specifically the players around them, how good they are in their positions and how the whole team operates when in defensive mode.

Stats such as ‘clean sheets’ (or more accurately the lack of them) cannot be blamed on just one player. I’ve included them in the analysis because they are often quoted.

The fact that van Dijk is clearly the best defender gives some credence to the figures. He only fails to come top in areas where he is less busy … this is because Liverpool are a very good balanced side that defend as a team.

Here are the results of that research, colour coded for easy recognition.

Be prepared to be shocked, it indicates that Mustafi is a hard working and effective defender.

What is impressive is that he outperforms them all in tackles made, tackles won and interceptions. It shows him to be a better defender than Maguire and Sokratis. Can this be true?


How do you produce a stat that represents lapses in concentration?

What can we conclude from all this? For some that will be whatever our ingrained bias makes us comfortable with. For others it could be the memory of yet another game changing incident.

The fact that his pass completion percentage is the lowest comes as no surprise, but coming top in the number of tackles won is unexpected.

What you can see from these stats is that Mustafi works his socks off. He probably tries too hard and make mistakes as a result … far too many mistakes for a lot of gooners.

Would he make fewer mistakes if we got off his back? Maybe.

Would he make fewer mistakes if his teammates were doing their job properly? It’s possible.

Arsenal own StatDNA, a specialist sports analytical company. The Arsenal coaches and manager will know just how  effective (statistically) Mustafi is at his job on the pitch. Their analysis will be far more sophisticated … but … if the picture they receive is similar to the above, will they ignore the booing and keep what these stats indicate is one of our best defenders … or will they succumb to fan pressure?

I think I already know the result this poll is likely to deliver … but have your say on the Mustafi question by voting …




53 Responses to Shock Horror … Mustafi is a Good Defender ….

  1. Sue says:

    Sorry to go OT right away, but I’ve just found out that RVP has joined the BT Sport punditry team… oh wonderful… never really liked listening to Owen, Mcmanaman, Gerrard, Savage… and now him!!! Oh that’s made it even more unbearable! 😡 was hoping I’d never have to see him ever again 😄

  2. Sue says:

    Just looked on Arsenal’s twitter page – which has cheered me up – On this day, in 2017, Kolasinac scored on his debut v Chelsea 👊

  3. vbhvguAdeola Orimoloye says:

    You did not add errors not leading to goals or major errors not leading to goals. That should make the difference.

  4. Rasp says:

    vb, there are no specific stats available for that, and I made just that point in the post if you read it.

  5. VP of Oz says:

    wow over 80 votes and only 3 comments (at the time I started writing this comment)
    great post Rasp. love lies lies and statistics
    Personally if we all agree Mustafi is good or if we sell him then the focus will simply shift to the next perceived worst player and that seems to be Xhaka now.

    I think the stats show that our defence is under heavy pressure every game. Maybe Dick is right to buy more attacking. More attacking and less defending will be needed.
    I suggest –
    Laca, PEA, Eddie, Martinelli, Pepe
    Mihki, Ozil, Ceballos, Iwobi

  6. VP of Oz says:

    Maybe better to play PEA more central and replace Iwobi with Willock
    this should work –
    Laca, Eddie, PEA, Martinelli, Pepe
    Mihki, Ozil, Ceballos, Willock

  7. arsenal-steve says:

    Every scientist knows that stats are measurments of quantities. They do not measure quality. Six passes from Mustafi may be very different from six passes from Eriksen even though they all reach a player. Also statistics do not measure nervousness, fear etc.

  8. Rasp says:

    Hi VP, I agree, our defenders are having to work harder than most … some of which must come down to the midfielders failing to be effective defensively.

    I had expected some vitriolic comments, but surprisingly, the voting shows a greater degree of empathy with Mustafi than I had expected.

  9. Sue says:

    Koscielny off for 4.6m…… farewell Laurent

  10. RC78 says:

    Bordeaux for Koscienlny – au revoir captaine!

    Emery must have agreed to sell if he can get a replacement. Who will it be? Dias? Tarkowski? Djakonam?

  11. zdzis says:

    If you look at WhoScored, Mustafi’s rating is consistently around the 7/10 mark. That’s decent for someone who makes the fans’ pants brown.
    You’re right, he is working hard. His passing stats probably reflect the fact that he’s forward-minded. And that’s partly also why his other stats are so good. Because he throws himself all in, he gets high marks for tackles, interceptions, and clearances. And since he’s really good at it, he gets few cautions.
    The problem is, because he’s on his toes so much and wanting to throw himself into the game, he is often out of position, out of step with the attackers. And this is bad when he’s paired with Kos (who isn’t very quick) or Sokratis (who also likes to anticipate play). What he would love to have is someone to have his back while he’s out there racking up the numbers. He won’t get that with both fullbacks out in the front and the other CB exactly as high up as he is himself.

    PS. To his credit, the penalty conceded stat should be at 1 – the other one was the one where Kane wasn’t flagged for a blatant offside.

  12. RC78 says:

    Why not play Mustafi as a RB? This is where he was playing well in and for Germany

  13. Rasp says:

    That’s a fair point Steve, I made it clear in the post that there can never be a definitive conclusion from statistics because there are so many other parameters that are inter-related. However this kind of analysis is just one of the tools used in assessing a player’s performance. Our emotional reaction as supporters to what we see going on on the pitch is also valid. I’m not a massive advocate of Mustafi per se, I just thought it would be interesting to explore these matters, as if he is still an Arsenal player next season, we will need to support him and get the best from him as a player.

  14. Rasp says:

    RC, that is an interesting suggestion. Unfortunately his pass completion statistics are quite poor, but they could improve if he was playing in a different position I suppose.

  15. VP of Oz says:

    I love the Moneyball movie and how it depicts stats (Sabermetrics) in making decisions on players.
    Its interesting that after Beane (the Oakland A’s GM) proved how Sabermetrics could be applied, other teams started to copy the model… The new ownership of the Red Sox believed in Beane’s strategy. The difference however was the Red Sox had the second highest payroll in the MLB (I think), compared to the A’s who had one of (if not the) lowest payroll. Having put those two things together, the Red Sox went on to make the playoffs 6 of the 8 following years and won 2 world series titles.

    Red Sox are owned by Fenway sports who also own Liverpool FC

    Beane is also now a minority owner of Barnsley FC…

    Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is an idol of mine, says revered baseball coach Billy Beane
    Beane -> The theory we use is about using data to properly allocate your resources in a more efficient way.

    “In baseball, our club would be like Blackpool, or Wigan in the Premier League. We can’t do the same things as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox in the same way Wigan cannot do the same things as Manchester United, so you have to do something different.

  16. VP of Oz says:

    I always go back to Moneyball and use of Sabermetrics because Arsenal own StatDNA, and would use it significantly in their decision making on buying and retaining players.
    Liverpool being owned by Fenway would also be heavily into stats, especially in buying players cheap, maximising their potential and then selling high. RedSox/Liverpool are succeeding whereas Arsenal have dropped behind in recent years. I hope that recent signs indicate success for Arsenal in the years to come…
    Both Fenway and KSE are sports management organisations up against oil owners. It will be interesting to see how we progress.

  17. Rasp says:

    Hi zdzis .. welcome.

    That’s a great comment. I began to appreciate Mustafi more as I looked into the stats relative to other players. I think he performs better next to a responsible partner .. not necessarily an older partner though. Apparently our best CB combination last season in terms of goals conceded was Holding and Mustafi.

    Holding is mature way beyond his years and a future captain if ever there is one.

  18. Maxwell says:

    Good post, Rasp. I voted “none of the above” – it’s my default setting, don’t y’know.

    I’m not surprised by the stats. 90% of the time, they’re what my eyes tell me. He’s a committed, rugged, skilful defender. But my eyes also tell me, as apparently do many Arsenal fans’, that too many threatening situations, too many goals, spring directly from an error on his part: diving in on the half way line and missing the ball with no defender behind him; passing the ball feebly on the edge of the box; going to ground and either committing a foul, or being skipped past by a tricksy winger; trying to win a header when already out of position and off-balance.

    No doubt, many of these situations are exacerbated by poor play in midfield, and finding himself isolated. That’s why Xhaka, who will also have surprisingly good stats, would be my man for the chop before Mustafi.

    I suggest that his poor passing stats are dominated by the “Sol Campbell”, a hopeful lump upfield in the belief he’s giving an incisive defence-splitting pass.

    As a postscript, a word on Koscielny. I liked him, but always saw him as a Mustafi with pace, and too-frequently guilty of the rash challenge. I was at the Everton FA Cup game a couple of seasons ago when he was rightly sent off quite early in the match, and only a superhuman effort by his colleagues got him off the hook. He and Mertesacker were our best CB pair, because Mertesacker’s skill and intelligence worked with Koscielny’s pace.

  19. rhyle says:

    I liked Mustafi when he joined…had(has?) all the attributes to be top drawer…the man won a World Cup!

    He’s proved decent…but a total liability. Far too many examples of him going walkabouts mentally and letting his man wander freely in the box and it costs us near enough every single time. Best example I can think is Zaha last season…has a five yard headstart, puts the brakes on and his arm up and lets him just go through him to put the ball in the back of the net.

    I think he will still come good…maybe in a league where he has a bit more time, where every error isn’t seized upon to the extent it is in the PL. He needs a clean slate and a chance to show that he can do it at a team where his colleagues trust him. I don’t think they do any more at the Arsenal.

    We need a player who can do the job for 90 minutes, week in, week out.

  20. LBG says:

    Interesting post that needs now to be sent around the UK and Europe so someone buys him! ( with Xhaka as a bogoff!)

  21. Rasp says:

    Interesting and valid points from Maxwell and rhyle … I’m in broad agreement.

    LBG 🙂

  22. fred1266 says:

    One of the main states for me was fouls bloody hell he and sokratis are horrendous

  23. omgarsenal says:

    Excellent and thoughtful analysis RASP….congrats! As you so succinctly point out…none of us are able to judge his real value to the team so dissing him from a fanboy perspective is unfair and counter-productive.

  24. zdzis says:

    Rasp, thanks, and I’d really love Holding to turn out exactly as you say. He looked massively impressive until ManU, losing him and Bellerin was the season for us. I’m worried there’s no one bar Holding who could hold that fort while the crazies run around hurting people and giving away the ball 🙂
    Re: fouling, Sokratis is way worse than Mustafi in that regard. Yet another reason to use either with someone more composed.

    PS. The word today is Koscielny out, Coutinho in. Are we going to play 2-3-5?…

  25. Rasp says:

    2-3-5 Lol ….. It seems Mr Emery shares Arsene’s devotion to midfielders … at the expense of defenders!

  26. RC78 says:

    Guys – why are we being linked with Coutinho?

  27. RC78 says:

    3 French media outlets have Coutinho joining us on loan. Where would he play? We have Auba, Pepe, Laca, RN, Iwobi, Ceballos, Mikhy, Ozil, ESR and even Willock that could play forward or attacking mid…

    Why not get Umtiti and Busquets instead?

  28. fred1266 says:

    Does that mean mkhitarian finally leaving let hope so

  29. fred1266 says:

    Cause we playing 235 this season Rc78

  30. LB says:

    Why are we connected with Coutinho?

    Because he has a good agent who is doing a clever job of keeping his profile high would be my guess.

  31. fred1266 says:

    No disrespect but have we gotten the shitty WC winner ever, no one of team can lead or team

  32. LBG says:

    Just imagine how good the rest of the German squad must(afi) been!

  33. RA says:

    Hi Rasper,

    Very impressive!! (The Post I mean – not necessarily Herr Mustafa.) 😳

  34. RA says:

    Mustafi — auto correct should be renamed auto incorrect.

  35. RA says:

    Could this be more football corruption — no trial yet – so no one guilty — but it will be interesting,

    The Swiss Prosecutors

    The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) on Tuesday indicted three former German football officials in relation to fraud surrounding the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

    Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach as well as the former Swiss FIFA official Urs Linsi are “alleged to have fraudulently misled the members of a supervisory body of the German
    Football Association (DFB) organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup about the true nature of a €6.7 million ($7.5 million) payment,” according to a statement released by the OAG.

    The four men deny any wrongdoing.

    The DFB said in 2016 that the payment was the return of personal loan — via football’s world governing body, FIFA, in 2005 — taken out by German football legend Franz Beckenbauer from Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

    However, in 2002, the same sum was allegedly transferred by Beckenbauer and Louis-Dreyfus to Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam — a former candidate for the FIFA presidency who was issued a lifelong ban for corruption in 2012, after evidence emerged of him trying to buy votes for the presidency.

    “The exact purpose of the payments to Mohamed Bin Hammam could not be determined — also because a corresponding request for mutual legal assistance to the Qatari authorities in September 2016 remained unanswered until today,” the OAG added.

    The money had been declared as partial financing for a World Cup gala that never took place. Investigations into the payment eventually forced Niersbach to resign as DFB president. It was alleged the money was used as a slush fund to buy votes to secure Germany’s bid to host the tournament.

    Beckenbauer, who led Germany’s bid to host the 2006 World Cup, also stands accused of fraud and will be investigated separately due to health concerns.

    cw/rt (dpa, Reuters)

  36. Rasp says:

    Hi Redders, nothing surprises me concerning corruption in football … it’s rife. Iconic figures like Beckenbauer and Platini were already rich from football but still couldn’t resist putting their greedy fingers in the till.

    Nothing would make me happier than to see the World Cup taken away from Qatar.

  37. Thanks Rasp, great post and lots of positive comments about Mustafi. I agree with all who have said that Mustafi and Holding was looking like the partnership we needed. Holding is the future for me.

    Farewell Kozzer, I did love you for a long time, best of luck in the future.

  38. Rasp says:

    Has anyone got a few lines for tomorrow’s post?

  39. RC78 says:

    Arsenal REFUSES Coutinho as they are chasing a CB with UPAMECANO, Rugani and Dias as front runners to replace Koscienly. Shall Upamecano join us, it would cost us 30 Mln plus ESR.

    Coutinho now linked to Tottenham

  40. fred1266 says:

    A comment from my fantasyfootball forum

    Arsenal’s defence should not have Mustafi playing at all (he is atrocious). We had to play him last season because of a frankly incredible list of injuries in defence last season. Chambers (who had a fine season at Fulham) was let off on loan after some fine performances at the last quarter of Wenger’s last season, because Holding was seen to be ahead in the pecking order as the third choice defender, ahead of Chambers. didn’t make sense to hold on to Chambers as 4th choice and stymie his growth. So we had Mustafi 4th and the promising Mavropanos 5th. Holding started excellently, and just as a fine partnership was developing with Sokratis, he got injured and out for the season. And Koscielny’s got another setback in his return from injury, and Mustafi had to be picked. And while he was giving his best-hit of gaffes, even Mavropanos was injured, and even Sokratis – so Monreal had to cover. basically, you had four first-team defenders injured. Mustafi has one trait which really, really stands apart. He NEVER gets injured.

  41. Mike M says:

    @ Rasp – I sent you an email

  42. Rasp says:

    Thanks Mike

  43. Sue says:

    What does everyone think of Koscielny’s unveiling, with the Arsenal shirt? Some people are having a meltdown…

    Bloody hell, Pepe, Laca & Ceballos struggling to be fit for Sunday?? I’d say I was having more of a meltdown over that than Koscielny!!

  44. RC78 says:

    Dybala and Coutinho to Tottenham? Their strike force looking strong with Kane, Son, Dybala, Coutinho, Moura and Lamela.

    I think we ll get a CB and maybe Tierney too. 2 more days… I have not seen many players going out so don’t be surprised if we let Macey, Mavropanos, Nketiah, Willock and ESR go out on loan. Maybe Jenkinson will be sold.

    Seems Mustsfi, Xhaka, El Neny, Ozil and Mkhy will be with us when we start the season but they could still leave the club before end of August

  45. fred1266 says:

    Never expected pepe and lacazette on Sunday cause pepe hasn’t played a preseason game and lacazette hasn’t played in 2

    Ceballos didn’t even want him at the club so don’t even care if he plays our not but in Newcastle if the side we have can’t beat Newcastle then something seriously wrong plus a great game for the youngster to show what they are really about these are the games I want emery to give them a chance in so we can really know if they can make it

  46. fred1266 says:

    Nah if they don’t go before Thursday they won’t leave

  47. RC78 says:

    Leipzig refused 60 Mln for Upamecano…
    They want 33 Mln plus ESR. There is another name that could be explored Milenkovic from Fiorentina or Criscito from Genoa or Irzo from Torino if we can’t get whom we are following. Tarkowski would also be welcome

  48. RC78 says:

    Seems it ll be Rugani. Two years Loan deal worth 20 Mln per year and the player is ours at the end of the 2 years loan

  49. fred1266 says:

    Criscito is a LB though

  50. LB says:

    Lazy Bastard?

  51. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

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