Arsenal’s summer signing centre-back, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, has sat out the Gunners’ last three matches – against Crystal Palace, Blackpool and Liverpool – with an ankle complaint.
A pairing of Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding has started in place of the Greek, with Julio Pleguezuelo making his senior debut against Blackpool.
According to the club’s official website, Sokratis is being assessed ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Sporting at the Emirates Stadium.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”327140″ player=”12034″ title=”Rafa’s Pub Facts Leicester Trump Man City Chelsea & Liverpool”]
This update suggests that, even if the 30-year-old isn’t ready to start against the Portuguese outfit, he could well be involved when Unai Emery’s side take on Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday.
At full fitness, Sokratis ought to be a starter for Arsenal as his experience and leadership helps to make the whole backline operate as a more cohesive unit. However, his involvement will require one of Holding or Mustafi to be dropped from the heart of the defence.
As the more junior player, there is a chance that Holding will be cast away to the bench. After all, Sokratis and Mustafi did form Emery’s preferred pair at the start of the season. That said, the 23-year-old Englishman’s recent form ought to see him retain his place in the starting XI.
Holding produced an imperious display against Liverpool and has generally been very reliable since being drafted into the team. Mustafi, meanwhile, despite an improved performance against Liverpool, has long been a defensive liability for Arsenal.
When everyone is available, Sokratis and Holding, rather than the 26-year-old German, should form Arsenal’s first choice defensive partnership.