Arsenal have invested heavily in their squad this summer but the signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund raised eyebrows.
The 30-year-old arrived as Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat’s latest former Dortmund man at the Emirates Stadium, following the captures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January, but, unlike that pair, has not made waves.
Signed for a fee which The Guardian says is worth £17.7m, the experienced defender arrives as the third-most expensive player of Unai Emery’s five summer signings and has a long way to go if he is to prove himself with the Gunners.
In a pre-season clash with Chelsea in Dublin last night, Sokratis struggled against Maurizio Sarri’s side and the Greece international was singled out for criticism on social media – with many fans expressing they do not fancy him to be a decent acquisition.
The Gunners fell behind to Antonio Rudiger’s header and saw Petr Cech save a penalty against his former employers, before Alexandre Lacazette scored a last-gasp equaliser to set-up victory for Unai Emery’s side via a penalty shoot-out in Arsenal’s penultimate pre-season match.
With just over a week to go until Emery’s first Premier League game against defending champions Manchester City, fans have expressed their concerns about Sokratis’ performance and whether he should start against the Citizens.
However, other supporters gave their backing to the new arrival and believe he just needs time to develop a partnership with another centre-back who attracted criticism last term – Germany international Shkodran Mustafi.
With Laurent Koscielny injured for the beginning of the new campaign, Arsenal will need Sokratis to hit the ground running but the assessment from fans on social media suggests that he has a lot to prove in north London.
Here, we have assembled some of the best reactions from Arsenal supporters on Twitter.
Bro we bought Sokratis 16m. This guy is terrible
— Emery's Son (@donceelogy) August 1, 2018
Mustafi as per usual, shaky… Sokratis still not impressive
— LorikF17 (@mo95172) August 1, 2018
I think I’d want Cal Chambers starting over Sokratis
— Simon Breeze (@Simon_Breeze) August 1, 2018
Sokratis and Mustafi played the high line in the first half and got it wrong a few times(Cech to rescue) but in the second half they got it right and caught Chelsea offside time and time again, it’s coming together it just needs a bit more time
— Next Generation AFC??? (@scoutingindoors) August 1, 2018
Must fix our defence before the season starts. I’m not convinced about Sokratis; think he will struggle in England. Bellerin great at getting forward but so wasteful with his final ball.
— FK ?? (@fkhanage) August 1, 2018
No one should be slacking off Sokratis today. He didn't make any mistakes. Chelsea's goal came from a rookie marking mistake by Smith Rowe, and he's a kid who doesn't need any negativity right now. Overall, there were so many positives in this game & fans should focus on that.
— Sensible Arsenal (@ArsenalSensible) August 1, 2018
We cannot start the season with this centre back partnership. Sokratis is fine, but Mustafi is still an incredible liability. Chambers or Dinos would be much better options to play alongside Sokratis against City.
— Dylan Walsh (@dylanwalsh_) August 1, 2018
Sokratis and Mustafi could be great partnership. Give them time for understanding each other on back 4
— Craig ??????? (@GoonerBhoys77) August 2, 2018
Love Sokratis , once he’s allowed more input he’ll organize the whole defense. Watch him without the ball.
— EJ AFC (@EhabStan) August 1, 2018
Arsenal fans want Emery to sell Granit Xhaka after Man City loss
Fans are demanding Arsenal sell Xhaka in the next two weeks.
Arsenal fans have made it clear throughout the history of the internet they need someone to be angry at and Granit Xhaka has inherited the crown.
With Arsene Wenger finally out, the Switzerland international has followed the likes of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott as Arsenal’s weekly scapegoat, a title that is tough to shake, and his performance against Manchester City did not help matters.
Poor on the ball and struggling to cope with the Citizens’ quota of stars, fans on social media quickly flocked to criticism the midfielder and demand that Unai Emery sells the former Borussia Monchengladbach man ASAP.
With Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira amongst Emery’s summer acquisitions, Xhaka has plenty of competition for his role in midfield and many fans have made it clear they don’t want to see Xhaka wear the Arsenal shirt once again.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and, a few months down the line, another scapegoat may have been identified. For now, it’s best Xhaka avoids logging onto Twitter…
Xhaka never has been and never will be good enough for Arsenal FC.
— Amy AFC (@newmanqueen1) August 12, 2018
Can we sell Xhaka? @arsenal
— napolean dynamite (@BennySumerY) August 12, 2018
Xhaka looks like the inexperienced youngster and Guendouzi is carrying his dumbass through this game.
— WH (@Wilshoholic) August 12, 2018
— Charles Wilman (@Khaosan05) August 12, 2018
He’s absolute bang average!! Not worthy of the @Arsenal shirt!
— ArsenalTheSinkingShip (@Shell_DonG) August 12, 2018
Hopefully the last time we see Xhaka play for the club.
— MW (@mediocentroEN) August 12, 2018
Yes, Guendouzi has made mistakes but he is meant to be playing with experienced pro's such as Cech, Mustafi and Xhaka yet he seems to be the leader out of them all. Embarrassing.
— Mitch (@MHaywxrd) August 12, 2018
Xhaka is genuinely the worst midfielder I've seen in 25 years at Arsenal. Slow, indecisive, positionally abject, constantly invites pressure on to the team and excels at literally nothing
— Exiled Expat (@ComradeNuts) August 12, 2018
2 weeks to get rid of Xhaka, come on Arsenal unload him please!
— Gooner Rumour (@GoonerRumour) August 13, 2018
Emery’s Arsenal conference: Left-back options, Ramsey & further exits
A new era under Emery dawns for Arsenal.
Arsenal enter a Premier League season with a new manager for the first time in over two decades, with Unai Emery now at the helm in north London.
The new boss starts life in English football with a baptism of fire as Arsenal host defending champions Manchester City on Sunday, where Emery has five new signings to potentially include in his starting line-up.
Ahead of his Premier League debut, Emery spoke to the press and we picked up three key takeaways from his comments.
Maitland-Niles in defence
Arsenal begin the season with a major issue in defence, as Sead Kolasinac will miss around ten weeks through injury and Nacho Monreal is not back to full fitness after returning from the World Cup with a knee problem.
That means that young Ainsley Maitland-Niles may be thrown into the deep end due to his versatility, featuring on the left-side of a defence against the Premier League champions. Fortunately, he has experience in this position and Emery is confident he can impress.
“We want to give him confidence and the possibility to play. I’m not sure because I am going to decide tomorrow or on Sunday on the first 11, but Ainsley is the player who started the last match against Lazio.”
Arsenal fans will have breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the transfer window closed yesterday, as it brought an end to speculation that Aaron Ramsey would be sold. However, it is far from the end of the saga concerning the Wales international.
With less than 12 months remaining on his contract, Arsenal are fearful that Ramsey could walk for nothing next summer and are working hard behind the scenes to secure the 27-year-old favourite to fresh terms. Unfortunately, Emery did not have a positive update to share.
“That’s not my work. For me it’s very important he stays with us. His experience here in Arsenal and the Premier League is very important and will give us all the information and performances in his quality. Then, the contract is for speaking with the club and the players.”
Three could still leave
The transfer window has come to a close in the Premier League but the European window remains open until the end of the month, while Football League sides also have until the end of August to negotiate loan deals.
Emery named three players that could leave by the end of the month in David Ospina, Carl Jenkinson and Joel Campbell – with goalkeeper Ospina currently the closest to an exit as Besiktas try to complete a deal for the stopper.
Interestingly, Danny Welbeck was omitted from the list despite speculation that a number of sides were keen on his services and that suggests he could still have a part to play this season.
“Today, we had a meeting with the players to close all the possibilities to leave or come with more players. We only have three players: Carl Jenkinson, David Ospina and Joel Campbell, with the possibility to leave.”
One winner and loser from Arsenal’s pre-season campaign
Major changes took place in north London this summer
A new era has dawned for Arsenal, we will enter the Premier League season with a new manager for the first time in over two decades.
Unai Emery has taken charge of the Emirates Stadium and swiftly rejuvenated the squad with five new signings, while also waving goodbye to established players like Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, both of whom left on free transfers.
Overall, Arsenal’s pre-season campaign was a positive one as the Gunners thrashed Paris Saint-Germain, edged Lazio in Sweden, beat Chelsea on penalties and held Atletico Madrid to a draw before losing on a shootout.
From those results we have identified one winner and one loser.
Winner: Emile Smith Rowe
Every pre-season there seems to be a young starlet who announces himself to Arsenal fans, catching the eye and providing a platform to build upon in the forthcoming campaign with the aim of fighting into the first-team squad.
This year it was the turn of Emile Smith Rowe, who made headlines with a stunning goal against Atletico Madrid in Singapore and impressed in the other games where he featured, potentially opening the path for regular football under Unai Emery.
Still just 18, the starlet has now outlined his plans for the forthcoming season as he seeks to earn opportunities in cup competitions.
“My long-term goal is to get in the first team permanently. But this season it’s to try to get as many minutes as I can in the Europa League and cups, and hopefully make my Premier League debut.”
Loser: Danny Welbeck
It has been a very strange summer for Danny Welbeck. Only returning to training this week following an extended break after the World Cup, Welbeck featured for just 11 minutes of football for England in Russia and may wonder if his career would have been better off staying at home.
In his absence, Welbeck has seen Alex Iwobi and Reiss Nelson awarded new contracts as well as witnessing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette craft an exciting partnership in attack – which left the former Manchester United man on the fringes.
After failing to earn a permanent exit, Football.London states he will remain in the squad fighting for a place but it is clear the 27-year-old is now a spare part in north London.
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