The gradual rise of Sokratis at Arsenal
- If there's one player who embodies the leadership role at the Emirates, it's Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
It comes as no surprise that Arsenal have yet again struggled to be a resurgent defensive force this season. Arsene Wenger's later years with Arsenal certainly promised 'beautiful football', but the Gunners shipped in more goals than any other team in the top six.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos signed for Arsenal for a fee of €20 million from Borrusia Dortmund. Reports suggest that Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang played a huge part in convincing him to join the North London club, and the Gooners will be beaming right now considering the performances Sokratis has put in.
Life in England didn't turn out to be as expected for Sokratis, as he was dragged down the pecking order by Unai Emery. But following a few slumpy games, Sokratis has cemented his place as a robust centre back, establishing himself as one of the better defenders in the Premier League right now.
The Greek international has settled and adapted himself to the high-octane English game and has started to churn up consistent performances for the Gunners. The players and the fans rely on him to give his best till the end of the season, as their quest to bring back Champions League football at the Emirates remains unaccomplished.
Arsenal have managed to keep six clean sheets in the Premier League this season, and Sokratis started in every single one of the games. The onus fell on Sokratis to hold the fort due to an unfortunate injury to Rob Holding and since then, the Greek wall has rarely produced a disappointing moment this season.
Unai Emery fumbled upon a formula at the start of the season, as his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation often led to ample goals getting shipped in. But the Spanish man's tactical variations have helped the North London outfit stay in the race for the top four, and as it stands at the end of gameweek 32, the Gunners are 3rd on the table, two clear points ahead of Spurs who sit on 4th.
Unai Emery has switched to a 3-man defence due to Arsenal defenders not putting in the extra shift, but this new formation seems to suit Sokratis and Koscienly perfectly, with Monreal guarding the left-hand side left vacant by Holding.
Sokratis has been a stand out defender this season due to his commitment, dedication and will to perform against the odds for his new employers. The 29-year-old has managed to restrict the impact of top forwards such as Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard in key fixtures. His tailor-made tackles and celebrations have turned him into a fan-favourite.Published 04 Apr 2019, 01:05 IST