Unai Emery’s Arsenal moved into the top four on Sunday afternoon after beating Southampton 2-0 at the Emirates, while at the same time Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Of course, many supporters may think that Mesut Ozil holds the key to securing a top four spot after his recent rise in form, but the defensive side of things is just as important and Sven Mislintat’s summer signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos has certainly been one of the surprise shining lights in recent times.
The win over the Saints was only the fifth time this season that the North London club has managed to keep a clean sheet in the league and it once again emphasised the importance of having Sokratis in the side.
Indeed, the Greek has been brilliant under the circumstances since joining the Gunners from Borussia Dortmund last summer, and they’ll find it difficult to qualify for the Champions League without Sokratis’ presence.
Sokratis has been as solid as a rock for Emery this season and has probably been the only defender who’s brought a sense of calmness to the team during his performances on the field.
The 30-year-old has been forced to adapt due to injuries to the likes of Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny. But, Sokratis, who is valued at £18 million (by Transfermarkt), has thrived under the pressure of constantly switching between a back-four and a back-three formation.
He’s been nothing less than outstanding as he’s capitalised on every opportunity up until this point, despite having to take a lot of responsibility.
Indeed, Arsenal looked more composed and organised with Sokratis on the field last time out. So, the availability of the Greece international will have to be a priority for the Gunners from here on in, with progression in the Europa League and a top four spot being a must.