Emery delivers huge statement on Mustafi ahead of Arsenal clash with Wolves

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Unai Emery claimed Shkodran Mustafi ‘has been consistent all season’ after his calamitous display against Crystal Palace blew the race for the top four wide open.

The Germany international was partly at fault for Christian Benteke’s opener, the former Liverpool flop’s first goal in a year, by allowing his opponent a free header before gifting Wilfried Zaha the opportunity to regain the lead after Mesut Ozil’s equaliser threatened to turn the tide in Arsenal’s favour.

Mustafi made no attempt to challenge for an aimless long ball, hoping his goalkeeper Bernd Leno would clear the danger, and was horrified when he turned to see Zaha race through and beat his compatriot.

Arsenal had kept six clean sheets in their last seven matches but Mustafi’s presence – he was only playing due to Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s suspension – heralded the return of familiar defensive failings.

‘Sometimes he can play very well. I prefer to speak about the consistency in the season,’ said Emery on the performances of Arsene Wenger’s £35million signing.

‘We are, every player, helping, playing with a big performance. Today also when you can defend. Against Benteke and Zaha you can suffer more.

‘If today we were better in the set pieces maybe we could win this match. In all the season I think he has been consistent.’

Arsenal missed the opportunity to move into third place, ultimately slumping to a shock 3-2 defeat, after Tottenham’s defeat at Manchester City and face a difficult trip to Wolves in midweek looking to get their top four bid back on track.

Emery added: ‘Bad result. We know how to win again again, again at home, we have been doing. Today we played a team with very good players. The first goal gave them confidence. The second goal for them takes off our confidence.

‘In the first half we didn’t play with control. Yes, with possession – they defended very deep and well. In the set-pieces today, usually we have done better but today it didn’t happen.

‘We are being consistent but it’s difficult to be in the high level each moment. Today the result was disappointing for us. We will analyse this match.

‘On Wednesday we have another chance with Wolves.

‘We have progressed and it gives us the chance to fight for the top four. On Wednesday, three points will give us the opportunity to be in this position.

‘We lost an opportunity today. But now we finish it. If we win on Wednesday… who knows it’ll be difficult. At the moment, it’s in our hands.’