If there is truly more joy in paradise for a repentant sinner than 99 righteous, Arsenal fans can surely find it in their hearts to forgive Shkodran Mustafi.
The German defender has tested his patience practically since the day he was signed by Arsène Wenger in 2016.
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However, as they prepared to throw him into the abyss of eternal damnation, it seems that Mustafi has finally seen the error of his ways.
And suddenly, the whole discussion of Arsenal is to give their prodigal son a new contract with Emirates.
During the past three summers, Mustafi seemed to be coming out as the first Wenger, then Unai Emery opened the door when he left.
Yet no one was willing to pay even a fraction of the £ 34.85 million Arsenal had spent to buy the man at risk from Valencia.
Which meant it was still lingering as a bad smell when Mikel Arteta took over in December in search of ways to stop Arsenal’s rot.
Mustafi, who had managed only 90 minutes of Premier League action all season before Arteta’s arrival, was certainly not the new manager’s immediate solution to the problem.
But over the past five months, he has gradually won over his new manager with his commitment, attitude and dedication to the cause.
And suddenly, he finds himself as one of the pillars of an Arsenal threesome defense that kept three successive sheets in the Premier League for the first time since November 2017.
With Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling among his next four opponents, there is still a lot of room for Mustafi to return to typing in the next fortnight.
However, Arteta is convinced that the much-maligned young 28-year-old has finally turned the corner.
He said, “We try to help each player improve, first of all by making them feel that we trust them.
“Anyone can make mistakes, of course, but if they are willing to keep trying, they will be rewarded.
“Musti’s attitude, the way he trains, the level of attention, the questions he asks and how much he wants to help everyone have been really good since I got in.”
The way he canceled the threat from Wolves Raul Jimenez’s 24 goals was a crucial factor in this vital victory for the Arteta team.
However, the future of Mustafi remains far from clear.
He is now in the final year of a contract with Arsenal worth around £ 80,000 a week.
The signatures of Pablo Mari and William Saliba coupled with the extension of David Luiz’s contract mean that the Gunners now have SEVEN central defenders in their team.
Still, Mustafi certainly seems to be ahead of Sokratis, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos according to Arteta, which means he’s no longer the first in the queue at the exit for this summer’s release.
And he can rejoice in the way Granit Xhaka has been rehabilitated to
the club after his future at Arsenal seemed just as uncertain.
Like Mustafi, the Swiss international midfielder has emerged as one of the rocks of Arteta in recent weeks.
Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette could have claimed the goals that keep Arsenal with an outside chance of finishing in the top five.
But it was the management of the game, the determination and the attention to detail that led to this impressive victory.
Arteta added: “Granite was instrumental in the outcome today. He and Dani Ceballos dictated the game very well. ”
After Leicester tomorrow night it’s the Spurs, Liverpool then
Manchester City in demi-finale of the FA Cup.
Arteta said: “It is clear that we need to rotate the players to protect them.
“So anyone who is available is welcome and we will use it. ”
And it seems that no one is more welcome than Mustafi at the moment.