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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal player has been “very close” to starting, he’s “in contention” for tonight

Mikel Arteta Arsenal head coach

Image source: Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed he has been “very close” to picking Shkodran Mustafi to start several times this season.

Mustafi has found his playing time limited at the Emirates Stadium and is yet to make a start in the Premier League this season.

The player is now linked with the move away from the North London club, though Arteta claims Mustafi still remains in his first-team plans.

“Well Musti came back from a really difficult injury when he got injured at the end of last season,” he said.

“After that period he was doing really well. I think his performances were increasing and getting better and better. And when he came back that’s when we had seven or eight central defenders.

“So he had to get his performance level up. I think physically he still needed some time. Then he started to play some games in Europe which I think he did well as well.

“And now it’s about, yeah, when do you make the next step to be the starter? And the reality is that we have to change that for different reasons, use different personnel. He’s been very close in a few games.

“But now we’ve found as well a partnership that is giving us clean sheets, and sometimes when you do that it’s difficult to change. But he’s still in contention.”

Source: HITC

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