By Richard Parks
Gary Neville has ripped into Shkodran Mustafi on Sky Sports’ main event channel after witnessing what he claimed was the Arsenal centre back’s “pathetic defending” in Sunday’s League Cup final.
Manchester City took the lead when a Claudio Bravo goal kick found Sergio Aguero, who lobbed keeper David Ospina with a sumptuous outside-of-the-boot finish after overpowering Mustafi between the halfway line and the penalty box.
Mustafi, who briefly played under Neville at former club Valencia, was nudged by Aguero in the build-up to the goal and appealed in vain for a free kick.
The pundit, who was summarising on the clash, was furious at what he insisted was appalling defending from one of the three defenders selected in Arsenal’s three-man system alongside Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers.
“Mustafi has to be stronger than that,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ live coverage of the cup final immediately after the goal. “That is pathetic defending. That is really bad from Mustafi and I think Ospina makes Aguero’s mind up for him (by coming off his line).
“But for a centre back to claim that as a foul is absolutely terrible defending. It’s woeful from Mustafi.
“I’m not having that as a foul it’s just really bad. It’s schoolboy stuff. It really is just shocking defending in all forms of football.”
Football Insider verdict:
Mustafi’s defending was not just puny, pitiful and pathetic in a showpiece cup final, it also would have been embarrassingly inept in a pub match. Quite what Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould must have thought watching from the dugout is perhaps best saved for behind closed doors. The Gunners were once a byword for defensive nous and resilience. Too often, now they are a running joke as the same mistakes repeat themselves match after match, season after season.
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