‘It is about having an identity’

Shkodran Mustafi in Champions League action
Shkodran Mustafi in Champions League action

Shkodran Mustafi says Arsenal’s impressive early-season form is down to “reading the game” effectively.

The Gunners have won seven matches in succession, and a key facet of their game has been the speed with which they press opponents.

“It's about having identity,” Mustafi said after the 6-0 win against Ludogorets. “We are doing well reading the game, because sometimes it's important to go up there and win the ball in the last third of the pitch.

“But sometimes it's about being back, being compact and trying to win the ball in the middle of the pitch. I think that's what makes big teams win titles, reading the game well.

“It's not only about us just keeping playing our game. Sometimes if you see that it doesn't work you have to change it and you have to be able to change your style of play.

“We're doing that well, because sometimes we're just playing always in the opponents’ half, and sometimes we'll just drop and play counter-attack.”

Arsenal are top of Champions League Group A, but Mustafi says the team must not get too far ahead of themselves as they seek to secure first place.

“There are too many games still to play,” he said. “It is not about going top - that is a consequence of the work you have to do.

“You have to keep working, keep going game after game and then at the end you are going to find yourself as the leader of the group. It is not about thinking about it, it is about making it happen on the pitch.

“You don’t have a lot of chances in the Champions League - only six games in the group stage - and you have to take as many points as you can.”

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