Interview

Playing out from the back? ‘It’s a process’

Shkodran Mustafi was back among the goals on Sunday - and he used his head yet again.

The Germany defender is a real menace in the opposition penalty area and he nodded home Granit Xhaka’s corner to set us on our way to a 3-2 win over Cardiff City.
 
Five of Mustafi’s six Premier League goals have been headers and, although our previous 16 goals were scored from open play, this latest set-piece success did not surprise the scorer.
 
“I don’t know if you saw last season, but we scored a lot of goals from set-pieces,” said Mustafi. “Nacho Monreal, especially, scored a lot of goals from set-pieces. Lolo Koscielny and myself too.”

Mustafi and his fellow defenders - plus the goalkeepers - are applying Unai Emery’s principle of playing the ball out from the back. There have been a few nervous moments while the team adapts, but Mustafi thinks we’re improving.
 
“It’s a process,” he said. “We have tried everything in pre-season but then when you make a mistake in pre-season it’s not that bad. In the Premier League you don’t want to make those mistakes, but you have to show your personality because we are a big football club with big players.
 
“We have to show the personality that we can play from the back because that’s our football and that’s how it suits us to play. We just have to keep working on that. Hopefully in a few games we’re going to look a bit more comfortable.”