Shkodran Mustafi endured a torrid time last season, as he became a victim of criticism from many outlets. The German defender had a couple of errors last season, however, the turning point was the error in the 2-3 home loss to Crystal Palace to allow Zaha get the decisive goal. Since then, the manager seemed to have lost faith in the defender.
Speaking to German outlet Spiegel Online, Mustafi opened up on the situation at the club and how much effect it had on him.
He said, “In the first two years after my move to Arsenal in 2016, things went very well for me.
“I saw myself as a performer. But shortly after Christmas 2018 there was a kink. I’ve made a few mistakes and they’ve created a mess that I’ve never experienced before.”
He went on: “I’m self-critical enough to realize that I made those mistakes. I can also deal with tough criticism. But the criticism has become escalated and irrational.
“I have become a target. At some point, people even blamed me for a defeat I had not played at all.”
He also addressed former Arsenal midfielder, Emmanuel Petit calling him the ‘King of Blunders’
“It’s on the Internet and it’s going to haunt me for the rest of my career,” he said of those comments.
“Former players like Petit shouldn’t need to make a name for themselves by making condescending comments about current players.”
He also went further to explain how his wife and family have helped him get through all the criticism.
“There were days when I really doubted something about myself. But at some point I realized that I am mentally strong. Something my wife said helped me a lot: ‘If you were really as bad as people are making you, you would never have been a World Champion and Arsenal player, something must have brought you here.” Since then I can handle it better.”
“I felt like I could get through this myself,” he said.
“For me, it would have been red alert if all this had ruined me so much that I had no desire for the game. If I could not have laughed in training. But that was not so. I continued to have friends in my job, and my family helped me.”
When asked about his reaction to Unai Emery’s public statement that he should leave the club, he had this to say.
“In the summer there were options to leave the club,” he said.
“But there wasn’t an option that all sides would have been happy with. Arsenal also attached some conditions to a possible departure despite their statements.
“I also knew the next change is extremely important to write a positive chapter in my career again. If I move somewhere that doesn’t really fit, the situation couldn’t improve much, so I stayed.
“I am open for the future – also the Bundesliga. In the Europa League and in the League Cup I played the entire games and we did not concede a goal.
“For me that’s a ray of hope that things are looking up again.”
Shkodran Mustafi has featured three times this season, with his appearances coming in the Carabao cup and the Europa League. He has kept three clean sheets in those three games and looked solid in all.