Mikel Arteta Discusses Shkodran Mustafi’s Errors & Insists Defender Has Arsenal Future

​Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has insisted that Shkodran Mustafi still has a future at the club, while he is prepared to work hard to help the defender eradicate the errors which have plagued his time at the Emirates Stadium.

The German has faced plenty of criticism from fans for numerous costly mistakes in matches, most recently in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea, when he under-hit a backpass which led to David Luiz’s red card and Chelsea’s opening goal.

Shkodran Mustafi

With Brazilian centre-back ​Pablo Marí set to join the club, it has been suggested that Mustafi could be moved on before the January window closes, but Arteta insisted (via ​Goal) that that is not the case.

“While he is my player and he is training with me the way he does every day, of course [he has a future at the club],” the boss revealed. “The plans maybe in the summer were different with him, I came here, he is here and his attitude is always right.”

Arteta went on to discuss Mustafi’s battle with consistency, insisting that it is his responsibility to help the defender figure out a way to stop making such costly mistakes.

“Absolutely. It’s my job to [help eradicate the errors],” the ​Arsenal boss said. “I don’t believe that at 27 you cannot improve certain aspects of the game. I really believe that you can.

“I’ve worked with players like this, I’ve had team-mates like this and there is always a moment where there is a click. There are certain patterns that lead to these type of scenarios [mistakes] and the more of those patterns that we take away, slowly they will decrease. I’m confident we can do that.

“I can accept a mistake, no problem. What I’m not going to accept is someone who makes a mistake and after he stops playing, he doesn’t want the ball, he doesn’t want to make decisions. That player is not acceptable for our team.

Shkodran Mustafi

“But Musti after that [mistake] tried to play every single time, he went for every single challenge and he put his body on the line.

“He was down afterwards, yes, but he reacted and if he does that, he will overcome the situation. He made a mistake. Obviously we want to minimise that as quickly as possible and find the reason why that happens, but I like his reaction after that.”


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Loris Karius Looking for New Club as Besiktas Fans Lose Patience With Goalkeeper

​Loris Karius is reported to be looking for a new club this month, after his relationship with the Besiktas fans reached a new low in defeat to Erzurumspor during the week. 

The German stopper, on loan from ​Liverpool, shipped six goals across two legs to the second-tier side as Besiktas crashed out of the cup – losing both legs by three goals to two. 

A cascade of boos were directed towards the keeper, who has become something of a scapegoat for his side’s faltering fortunes in recent weeks, and reports in Turkey say he now feels there is no way of repairing his fractious relationship with the club’s support. 

Karius

So much so, in fact, that Turkish outlet ​Fanatik report that he now wants to move on from the club prematurely. With just six months left of his two-year loan spell in Turkey, and the same left on his Liverpool contract, he is said to have spoken to his agent to begin the process of seeking out a new club.

It’s unclear whether he has hopes of departing Besiktas before the expiry of his current deal there or if he is simply looking to the future beyond this season, but in any case it certainly seems he is keen to leave this chapter of his career behind.

The 26-year-old has seen his already-damaged stock fall further with a highlight reel of notable errors between the sticks in Istanbul. He of course lives in infamy, if not entirely without sympathy, at Liverpool, where two key errors cost them the 2018 ​Champions League final against ​Real Madrid. 

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"

The Reds have undergone a remarkable revival in his absence, replacing the German with the flawless Alisson who has helped them to three continental trophies, and continues to star on their way to the Premier League title in this campaign. 

For Karius, then, it certainly seems there is no way back at Anfield, with Adrian firmly installed as reliable backup to the Brazilian number one. The Fanatik report notes that he is looking to options in England and Germany for his next move, and for all his poor recent form, he is not likely to find it difficult to find another club willing to give him a chance – especially since he will be available on a free in the summer. 


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Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Nacho Winner Sends Blancos Top

Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s loss to Valencia on Saturday by beating Real Valladolid on Sunday evening, Nacho Fernandez scoring the only game of the game at Estadio José Zorrilla.

Knowing a win would take them top of La Liga, Real struggled for large periods but got themselves ahead when Nacho’s header from Toni Kroos’ cross crept over Jordi Masip’s line in the 78th minute.

Los Blancos dominated ​possession throughout, though Valladolid did go close when Sergi Guardiola hooked in from six yards – only for the offside flag to be raised.

Nacho Fernandez

The result means Real are now three points ahead of Barça at the top of Spain’s top flight, having previously trailed the reigning champions on goals scored.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Masip (5); Antonito (5), Olivas (6), Salisu (7), Garcia (7); Emeterio (5), Fernandez (6), Alcaraz (7); Michel (6); Guardiola (5), Unal (6).

​Substitutes: ​Villa (6), Plano (6), De la Fuente (6).

Nacho Fernandez


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

So, here was the chance, ​Real fans.

The chance to seize the initiative in the ​La Liga title race.

The chance to go ahead of ​Barcelona and first outright, having been stuck behind the current league champions on goals scored.

Real’s bitter rivals lost at Valencia on Saturday, offering Los Blancos a chance to surge ahead in the title race. Given that Barca have won four of the last five top flight Spanish titles on offer, competitors really have to take advantage whenever La Blaugrana slip up.

Zinedine Zidane

It probably wasn’t the best prep for Zinedine Zidane, then, that a few key players were absent. Dani Carvajal’s suspension meant utility man Nacho filled in at right back, while Gareth Bale’s absence ensured there was a starting place for Rodrygo alongside Karim Benzema and Isco in attack.

Any nerves that might have bothered Real’s players before Sunday evening’s game seemed to dissipate rather quickly as they stuck the ball in Valladolid’s net early on, only for Casemiro’s header to be disallowed.

However, while things must have got frustrating as Real continued to knock on the door with little to show for it, Zidane’s side ultimately kept their nerve to snatch all three points late on, thanks to one unlikely goalscorer.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (6); Nacho (9), Varane (6), Ramos (7), Mendy (8); Modric (6), Casemiro (7), Kroos (7); Rodrygo (6), Benzema (6), Isco (7).

Substitutes: Vazquez (6), Valverde (N/A), Jovic (N/A)


Nacho Fernandez

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALLADOLID-REAL MADRID

Real’s faithful handyman turned in a performance at right back that even the regular incumbent Carvajal would have been impressed with.

The Spaniard made four tackles – the joint most during the game – as well as a match high of four interceptions.

Real’s squad may look a little thin in attacking areas with injuries cropping all over the shop, but in Nacho they have a player who can fill in at the back wherever, whenever required.





Looking Ahead

It’s the small matter of the Madrid derby next for Real when Atletico visit the Bernabeu on 1 February.

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Napoli 2-1 Juventus: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Juve Squander Chance to Go 6 Points Clear

Juventus squandered the opportunity to go six points clear at the top of Serie A, as goals from Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne inflicted a shock defeat on the defending champions, and lit a fire under Napoli’s dwindling season. 

An attritional first half yielded precious little in the way of clear-cut chances, an Arkadiusz Milik header at one end and a poor Cristiano Ronaldo effort at the other the closest either side would come to opening the scoring. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-JUVENTUS

In a sense the quiet start to proceedings suited both sides, however. ​Juventus were content to control possession, seemingly confident the chances would come, while ​Napoli were happy to sit deep and try their hand at denying them that luxury. 

The visitors began to zip the ball about with a bit more urgency as the second half kicked things into second gear, and they did have the ball in the net through Ronaldo, though it was rightly chopped off for an earlier offside call on Gonzalo Higuain, enduring a hostile reception upon his return to Naples. 

After the evening’s pantomime villain had an effort well-saved by Alex Meret, however, it was the home side who took a near-unthinkable lead. Zielinski watched Wojciech Szczesny save a powerful effort from Insigne, and timing his run to perfection, the Poland midfielder arrived at the right time to force the ball over the line and send Stadio San Paolo into raptures. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-JUVENTUS

Juventus failed to respond, in truth, a raft of substitutions and tactical changes leaving them disoriented and disjointed – something of which Napoli took full advantage of. 

The game was finished off as a contest, or so it seemed, on 86 minutes, when the superb Insigne arrived at the back post to drive José Callejon’s cross into the ground and into the net. 

Ronaldo did manage to pull one back for the visitors thanks to some suspect goalkeeping from Meret, but the keeper made up for it when he clutched Higuain’s effort out the air and collapsed on top of it to make sure of the points deep into stoppage time. 


Napoli

Key Talking Point

Going in off the back of three successive ​Serie A defeats and four on the bounce at home, Napoli could hardly have picked a less convenient opponent that a highly-functional Juve side against which to try and end that run. They had never lost five on the bounce at home; it would require a pretty big performance from them, then, to avoid making history. 

Setting up to defend with everything they have, they did just that. They gave their esteemed opposition no quarter in the final third, an admirable performance by a side whose young manager found himself under severe pressure coming in. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-JUVENTUS

They defended crosses with a determination that suggested their lives depended on it, while Fabian Ruiz and Diego Demme frequently did the hard yards to cut off the creative supply from the likes of Paulo Dybala in central positions. 

Not long ago when Napoli were coached by the man currently in the Juventus hot-seat, and this fixture saw Italy’s two best sides go head to head. Now, there was supposed to be a chasm between them that would signify how far Napoli had fallen since the Maurizio Sarri era at the club – but that was nowhere to be seen. 

It’s perhaps too early to call it a turning point for Gennaro Gattuso’s side, but as springboards go, they won’t get a more effective one this season. You feel, then, that they have to make it count. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Meret (7); Hysaj (7), Manolas (7), Di Lorenzo (6), Rui (7); Fabian (7), Demme (6), Zielinski (7); Callejon (6), Milik (5), Insigne (8).

Subs: Lobotka (6), Elmas (6), Llorente (N/A).


Lorenzo Insigne

It would be easy to give this one to the industrious Zielinski, but it was Lorenzo Insigne who provided the hosts’ most consistent threat – and what a considerable threat it was.

Lorenzo Insigne

Taking advantage of the considerable space available in behind Juan Cuadrado, the winger made his opposing full-back’s life a misery on the counter, and the infallible out-ball he offered was invaluable as his side came under the cosh late on. He had the composure to put the game to bed when it mattered, and if his side are to put a dreadful start to bed and start climbing the table, then he will have a huge part to play. 


Juventus

Key Talking Point

Juve went into this one with the pressure comparably off. Inter’s previously-unrelenting pursuit had eased up somewhat, their most recent stumble coming against Cagliari earlier on Sunday, so Maurizio Sarri’s men went in aware of the three-point cushion between the sides – but nonetheless keen to stretch that even further. 

They might have been keen to do so, but their performance failed to show it. They were slow, lethargic, at times complacent, and nowhere near the standard required. They perhaps took their struggling hosts for granted, and were punished accordingly. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-JUVENTUS

In the end, it’s not necessarily disaster, perhaps just a wake-up call for Sarri’s men, but they will know they require a serious improvement if they are to fend off Inter in the weeks and months ahead. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Szczesny (6); Cuadrado (5), De Ligt (5), Bonucci (6), Sandro (6); Bentancur (7), Pjanic (5), Matuidi (6); Dybala (5), Higuain (6), Ronaldo (7).

Subs: Rabiot (6), Costa (4), Bernardeschi (5).


Rodrigo Bentancur

Eljif Elmas,Rodrigo Bentancur

It was a poor, poor evening for Juventus, but one man who didn’t let his head drop was midfield maestro Rodrigo Bentancur. 

The youngster was hoisted out of position by Miralem Pjanic’s injury early in the second half, charged with covering the defence at the base of midfield, but he performed his duties admirably – if failing to affect the game in an attacking sense. 


Looking Ahead​

Napoli travel to Fiorentina next Monday, while Juventus host Fiorentina a day earlier looking to get things back on track.

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Way Too Early Candidates for Brighton’s Player of the Season Award

Brighton & Hove Albion have been a mixed bag this season, with new manager Graham Potter revolutionising the style of football at the club to a more exciting, possession-based mentality for fans to enjoy, however their impressive performances haven’t resulted in a great deal of points.

Sat just two points above the relegation zone with a host of six-pointer fixtures on the horizon, the Seagulls will be looking to certain star players to provide them with the vital victories they need to retain their Premier League status.

Speaking of certain star players, here is 90min’s way too early assessment of the four individuals who should be listed as candidates for Brighton’s ‘Player of the Season’ award.


Lewis Dunk

Tammy Abraham,Lewis Dunk

He is one of their own, he is a leader, he is their captain. That’s right, Lewis Dunk has been absolutely sensational once again for Brighton this season.

He has blocked shots, scored goals, launched 60-yard cross-field balls, tackled attackers with his face…he’s even netted a free kick at Anfield. In fact, there’s very little that Dunk hasn’t done in 2019/20.

In a period of transition under Graham Potter, he has been the crucial figure in the centre of defence and has been a joy to watch. Some even say he should be in contention for England’s EURO 2020 squad, and there’s good evidence for that.


Aaron Mooy

Aaron Mooy,Neal Maupay

Recently making his loan deal with the Seagulls permanent, signing from Huddersfield, ​Aaron Mooy has settled into Potter’s side with ease, becoming a vital part of the midfield.

Scoring twice in his last four starts, Mooy has shown ​Brighton and Premier League fans what he is made of. He has dribbled out of difficult situations, whipped balls into the box and switched the play with exquisite accuracy. He always looks a threat on the attack.

With an anxious relegation battle on the agenda, Albion supporters will be hoping he can continue his fine form and help them to stay in the top flight.


Dan Burn

N'Golo Kante,Dan Burn


Before fracturing his collar bone in Brighton’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea on New Year’s Day, Dan Burn had played every minute of Premier League football this season, and was the only outfield Albion player to do so.

At 6ft 7in, you would expect Burn to be solely in the side for his height and aerial ability, but that is where you are wrong…sort of. Yes, his height has been extremely useful for defending set pieces, but his versatility has been the main factor in his success in the Stripes thus far.

Playing often as a left back amid injury concerns for Bernardo, Burn has executed an unusual role but succeeded more often than not, proving that he is a consistent performer.


Neal Maupay

Neal Maupay

Summer signing Neal Maupay is currently Brighton’s top goal scorer in 2019/20, netting on seven occasions in the ​Premier League.

When Albion have been in need of a goal, this man has rarely disappointed. Scoring an absolute peach against Wolves, and the crucial winner against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, it is clear to see why Dan Ashworth and the rest of the recruitment team invested around £18m to bring him to the club from Brentford.

Taking over from veteran attacker Glenn Murray to become first choice at the Amex, Maupay will hope to reach double figures in his first Premier League campaign.


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