Shkodran Mustafi says Arsenal will not be fazed by Chelsea's big finals experience

Sam Dean
Shkodran Mustafi in training with Arsenal ahead of Wednesday's final - Action Images via Reuters

Shkodran Mustafi, the Arsenal defender, has insisted that Chelsea’s experience in big finals will not work against his side as Unai Emery’s team prepare for their first European showpiece event since 2006.

Chelsea's players have more than twice as much experience in European finals than Arsenal's, who are looking to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League with victory.

Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil and Stephan Lichtsteiner are the only available Arsenal players to have played in European finals before, compared to a total of 10 appearances from those in Chelsea’s squad.

Asked if that experience will be an advantage for Chelsea, Mustafi said: “You can tell me what you think: a lot of players, experienced, who have played a lot of finals or a team which is motivated for their first game?

“It depends how you see it. I think it’s more positive when you have no experience because you go there, you are looking forward to it. It’s a final, you give everything and you are looking forward to win it. For us it’s more positive than negative.”

Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the final Credit: Getty Images

Arsenal will of course be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who played and scored in the final of the Europa League for Manchester United in 2017 but is missing the game because of political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Emery's side will need to be at their defensive best in Baku against the likes of Pedro and Eden Hazard, who will carry the greatest threat for Chelsea.

Arsenal’s defence has let them down at times this season, with Mustafi among those to have received the most criticism for his errors at the back.

“It is not getting to me because our job as defenders is to try not to concede goals, but if you make 90 per cent of your job and in the 10 per cent the opponent scores a goal, people forget about the 90 per cent,” Mustafi said.

“If at the end of the season you have made 70 points, it is for a reason. If you go into the game without the defence and only with attacking players I am not sure you are going to make 70 points.

“If a striker misses a goal or a penalty or whatever, you get a new opportunity five or 10 minutes later. For us defenders, if you make one mistake and they score, even if in five minutes you save something on the line, people still won't talk about it. You get to live with it because it is part of our job.”