Arsene Wenger explains Shkodran Mustafi’s defensive role for Arsenal against Burnley
Arsenal lined up in what has become their new default formation to face Burnley at Turf Moor as Arsene Wenger once again named a back three with Shkodran Mustafi deployed in the centre of defence.
It is a position that has led to other players in the Premier League rising to greater prominence than ever before, most notably David Luiz of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld. Both are widely recognised as two of the best ball-playing defenders in England.
Prior to his injury, John Stones also filled this niche for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City when they opted to play with three at the back to accommodate a two-man partnership of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero up front.
Mustafi is Wenger’s first-choice option to play in the middle of the three for Arsenal and ahead of the Burnley game he explained what the German brings to the role and why he is so important to the team.
“He’s naturally a talker, an organiser, and I felt in the middle of the three he could come out more,” said the Frenchamn, who is also a great admirer of the centre-back’s readiness to get involved in the physical challenges of the game.
“He’s also a guy who throws his body in to block the shots, and he is helpful in covering other players,” he added.
The 25-year-old has forged a strong understanding with fellow defenders Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, who is now a regular member of the back three playing as a centre-back after originally joining Arsenal as a left-back.
However, Mustafi is the key to bringing this arrangement together on the field, according to Wenger.
“He’s always alert and focused. It’s naturally a position that suits him well.”