As reported by the Daily Star, Andy Townsend has slammed Sokratis Papastathopoulos, claiming that the Arsenal defender is “nowhere near good enough”.
“I don’t think he would get into any Premier League side. With Arsenal, you will think ‘I can win games with these players, but I’ve got to sort out a team’. You will never stop Sokratis making mistakes. If you rely on him, you will be changing manager every six months.”, Townsend told BBC.
Why has Sokratis struggled at Arsenal?
Sokratis has been a liability ever since the arrival of Unai Emery. The Spaniard had employed a certain style of play that focuses heavily on playing the ball out from the back. And that’s where the defender’s problems start.
It is quite needless to say Sokratis is not a technically gifted defender. He is far better-equipped when it comes to clearing the ball away from the line or making a strong tackle to stop the opponent right in their tracks. Yet, the Greek international has been utilised as a primary source of Arsenal’s build-up play.
As a result, he has often played rash passes and has looked nervy with the ball at his feet, especially against the high pressing opponents. And alongside someone like David Luiz, who hasn’t been a huge help either, the Arsenal defence has collapsed frequently, costing the club a lot of points throughout the course of this ongoing campaign.
Can Sokratis improve in the post-Emery era?
One would think that Sokratis might improve following the departure of Emery. Freddie Ljungberg has currently taken charge of Arsenal. But, unfortunately, no matter how the Swede employs his tactics, it is imperative for the club to have at least one proficient ball-playing centre-back.
In fact, most of the top European clubs opt for two ball-playing centre-backs, which significantly reduces the chances of a defensive mishap during a build-up. Sokratis, therefore, should not be trusted as a long-term component of the Arsenal backline if the club is to fix their problems at the back.
The Greek’s inability to pass the ball out from the back is clearly unacceptable at this level of football. Hence, it would perhaps be wiser for the Gunners to undergo a complete defensive overhaul by offloading players like Sokratis, Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi next summer.
As for Townsend, his comments about Sokratis not being good enough for any Premier League is obviously an over-exaggeration as the ex-Dortmund star could really thrive at clubs outside the ‘Big Six’ like Leicester City or Crystal Palace.
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