Since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2018 for a fee in the region of £17.7m, Sokratis has brought his naturally physical style of play to English football. A match made in heaven perhaps.
In his debut campaign in the Premier League whilst Unai Emery was in charge, the Greek averaged 1.6 tackles and 3.1 clearances per game – the kind of no-nonsense defending that the Gunners may have found appealing. But his use of the ball has been far less impressive. The 6 foot 1 man has had some high-profile errors when trying to fit into his team’s style of wanting to play out from the back, with this season’s howler against Watford still fresh in the mind.
And against Leeds on Monday night in the third round of the FA Cup, Mikel Arteta took the decision to play him at right-back – no doubt with one eye of resting Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and trying to treat an injury-plagued Hector Bellerin with caution. Perhaps rather typically, Sokratis struggled immensely with dealing a position that is rather alien in nature to him.
Watch Arsenal Videos With StreamFootball.tv Below
He has played in that role just 27 times in his entire footballing career, whilst the last time he did so came in the 2015/2016 campaign whilst with Dortmund. Against Leeds, Sokratis lost possession a staggering 17 times over the course of the 90 minutes, as he looked ill at ease with trying to carry the ball forward as a normal full-back is expected to do.
With Arteta trying to knit a style of play close to the one he has been exposed to at Manchester City, Sokratis’ struggles with the ball at his feet is a major worry for the Greek’s long-term future at the club. He had just a 75% pass accuracy on Monday, and failed to complete any of his four attempted long balls – invariably he just decided to hoof it into touch, registering four clearances in total.
Quickfire Quiz: How much do you know about Arsenal’s history in the January transfer window?
Whatever you think of Sokratis, the burly centre-half doesn’t half give it his all. One particularly iconic moment deep into the second-half against Leeds on Monday night saw him entangled in a battle down by the corner flag, which eventually drew a roar of approval from the Arsenal fans.
But away from the nitty gritty that he seems to excel in, the Greek just doesn’t seem to have the technical expertise on the ball to be a long-term fixture in Arteta’s thinking.