Mustafi aware of Frankfurt threat with Arsenal on verge of Europa League knockout stages
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Arsenal will qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates on Thursday night, but defender Shkodran Mustafi is aware of the threat the German side pose. Read on to see what he had to say.
On our Europe League performances...
"Well, I think that it was a difficult start to the competition because we played Frankfurt away which was not an easy place to go and win. I think we had a good gameplan, we stuck to the gameplan and we dealt with probably the strongest team in our group very well. We took the three points which was very important to go into this competition and then we played very good games at home against Liege and the other one [against Vitoria] was more of a character game where we came back from going behind and believed until the last minute and we got rewarded for that. We had a few good games in this competition and I think me and all the team are looking forward to continuing this in the next game."
"You noticed from the beginning in Frankfurt that they're a team with identity. You could see what they were trying to do and how they were trying to play. The players knew what to do, how they were moving and it's always difficult to play against very organised teams like that and they have the individual quality to hurt you as well. We had to be fully focused for 90 minutes and play when we had our chances, when we had our moments of the gameto finish them off. We did that well. In this game they had a red card which made it easier for us towards the end, but I think the team did very well when we played in Frankfurt."
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On six games without a win...
"Football is a game, obviously if I can choose I would like to win every game but other teams are playing football as well and they want to win as well. But as an Arsenal player and this club, you want to win every game. When you don't win you come back here to the training ground, like we do every day. We work our socks off because at the end of the day it's a day-to-day job. Every day, you have to keep fighting, you have to work, you have to improve and in the last games we didn't manage to win. Every day, after every game of the six, we came back to the training ground and we've been working, we've been analysing, trying to get better and trying to improve on things that we didn't do well. That's what we are going to keep on doing. When things are not going like you want them to go, you go back to the basics and you look to improve on the things that didn't work out and that's what we're going to do in the next games as well. If you win, if you lose, you have to analyse and try to improve because this is what our job is all about. If you win five games and then you lose one, people will always remember the last one, so we're going to try and win the next game so that people can remember the game that we won. And then win the next one and then the next one if we can."
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On the manager being under a lot of pressure...
"First of all we play for the club. If you play for Arsenal, you play for a big club and you have to know you have to give everything to win. We play for each other because we are a team, the boys in the dressing room and the coaching staff are all in the same boat. If the coach is under pressure, the players are too. We stick together, we fight for each other and everyone is trying to give their best. The coach is trying to organise the team and we, as players, try to put on the pitch what we do every day in training. We play together, we're in the same boat and we will try to fight our way out of this."
On whether he may leave in January or if he'll stay until the summer...
"I am still here. I am a player of Arsenal and I've got a contract with Arsenal for one and a half more years. I have always said that if there is going to be something where it suits me and if there is going to be something where I want to make a next step then I am open to it and I am open to talk. But at the moment I think it's a situation where we have to put our own interests in the background because we have to focus on the team and we have to focus on winning games. So at the moment I'm really not thinking about my own personal future. I am thinking about when I have the opportunity to help the team, I am trying to do that. This is not only me, this is everyone in the dressing room. I know there are always a lot of things going on and a lot of people talk and give opinions on what is going on, but I can say that in the dressing room that everyone is fully focused on giving everything to get out of this situation because it makes life easier for us when things are going good. So everyone is really looking to play football and win games with Arsenal."
On how Frankfurt play...
"Frankfurt is a team with a coach who has a very good identity. You can tell their idea of the game and how they want to play. Nothing is random, they're very coordinated. Even if you know how they play, you can't always anticipate it as a defender. If you anticipate their attacking moves, you may open up different spaces for them to capitalise on. It's a team with attacking strengths so you have to be focused for 90 minutes. They don't hog possession without gaining any space. They're very organised on the ball and want to get it back as soon as possible. It's hard to play against teams like these. It's not easy."