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Arsenal start to the season is far better than most people realise

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Arsenal won both their opening games and sit second in the table but to the naysayers out there it was against poor opposition, was fully expected and is no great achievement.

Well, I accept that Newcastle United and Burnley should have been beaten but when you look back at the last decade and look at the opening two games for Arsenal you will soon realise that regardless of the quality of the opposition winning both opening games is an improvement, a significant one.

Let’s have a look back at the last ten years

2019 – 6 points

Newcastle United 0–1 Arsenal
Arsenal 2–1 Burnley


2018 – 0 points

Arsenal 0–2 Manchester City
Chelsea 3–2 Arsenal

2017 – 3 points

Arsenal 4–3 Leicester City
Stoke City 1–0 Arsenal

2016 – 1 point

Arsenal 3–4 Liverpool
Leicester City 0–0 Arsenal

2015 – 3 points

Arsenal 0–2 West Ham United
Crystal Palace 1–2 Arsenal

2014 – 4 points

Arsenal 2–1 Crystal Palace
Everton 2–2 Arsenal

2013 – 3 points

Arsenal 1–3 Aston Villa
Fulham 1–3 Arsenal

2012 – 2 points

Arsenal 0–0 Sunderland
Stoke City 0–0 Arsenal

2011 – 1 point

Newcastle United 0–0 Arsenal
Arsenal 0–2 Liverpool

2010 – 4 points

Liverpool 1–1 Arsenal
Arsenal 6–0 Blackpool

So, there you have it, this season as the first in ten years that Arsenal picked up six points from their opening two games and you can see from the list above that there have been some terrible results against teams that we should have beaten.

There are so many variables to take into consideration, what sort of pre-season was had, how have the new signings integrated, how have players departing affected the team, what was the injury list and so on.

Of course, on paper Arsenal should always pick up three points against cannon fodder but that is not how football works and momentum and confidence are just as important as a £50 Million player early on in the campaign.

Arsenal has done very well no matter what the critics have said, we all know that Liverpool and Tottenham will be stern tests but that in no way diminishes the huge improvement on the last ten years when it comes to opening games.


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Shkodran Mustafi can see a future at Arsenal after reviving his career under Mikel Arteta

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Shkodran Mustafi can see a future at Arsenal after reviving his career under Mikel Arteta following poor spell

  • Shkodran Mustafi has fallen out of favour under former manager Unai Emery
  • However, Arteta has been pairing the German with David Luiz at centre back
  • Mustafi appeared against Olympiacos and is hoping to keep place on Sunday

Shkodran Mustafi has refused to rule out remaining at Arsenal beyond the end of the season after rebuilding his relationship with the club’s fanbase following his recent resurgence.

Having been told by previous boss Unai Emery that he was free to leave the club last summer and then being left out on a regular basis, Mustafi has earned a chance of reviving his Gunners career under Mikel Arteta.

The Germany international has endured a strained affiliation with Arsenal supporters since his big-money move from Valencia in 2016 and has often been derided for his defensive capability.

Shkodran Mustafi is refusing to rule out the possibility of remaining at Arsenal past this season

Shkodran Mustafi is refusing to rule out the possibility of remaining at Arsenal past this season

But, alongside David Luiz at the heart of the back four, Mustafi has played his part in three consecutive clean sheets – the first time Arsenal have enjoyed such a run in 10 months.

He again stood strong in Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League round of 32 win in Olympiacos as Alexandre Lacazette’s goal put Arteta’s side in the driving seat to advance to the next stage.

Speaking after the narrow victory in Piraeus, Mustafi — who has now started the last six Arsenal games across all competitions — said he could now remain at the Emirates Stadium in the long-term.

Asked if he saw his future at Arsenal, he replied: ‘Why not? I have always taken things day to day.

‘We had a game on Thursday, we have the next important game at the weekend and as long as I am playing for a club – it doesn’t matter which one – I play now for Arsenal and played before for previous ones.

‘I always gave everything until the last minute and when I decide or when the club and I decide it is going to continue I am happy to continue, if not then we have to go forward.’

Often singled out as a scapegoat during recent Arsenal trials and tribulations, Mustafi’s recent form has seen him praised by supporters and the 27-year-old admits building bridges with fans has made his return to the team easier.

‘It is always important to have a good relationship with the fans but for me the main thing was to be professional,’ he added.

‘To always be there for my team-mates and for the club and then obviously when you play well they appreciate your performances but it makes it easier when you have the fans behind you, back supporting you so I am happy for that.’

Having a settled life away from the spotlight of the football pitch is something else Mustafi credits with helping him to kick-start his stuttering career in England.

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal's defence under Mikel Arteta

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal's defence under Mikel Arteta

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal’s defence under Mikel Arteta

‘You know I think in the beginning of the season, not being selected, not making the squad, it has been difficult,’ he said.

‘But I am a person who tries to see more the positive things than the negatives. I think that helped me a lot.

‘Having my family around me – my kids, my wife – because life is not only football. That’s something I kept remembering to myself.

‘Being in training every day, playing a lot of games, you get a lot of attention but still at the end of the day I am a father of two kids and I try to focus on this as well. I am happy how it is running now.

‘I am happy for the team as well because it is doing great and we are getting rewarded for it. That’s the most important thing.’

 



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Video: Inter Milan’s Christian Eriksen scores his first goal since signing from Tottenham Hotspur

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Former Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen has scored his first goal for new club Inter Milan. The Denmark international was on…

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Photo: Arsenal stars celebrate in the dressing room after beating Olympiakos

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Arsenal pair Bernd Leno and Shkodran Musafi celebrated alongside each other after last night’s 0-1 win over Olympiakos in their Europa League…

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