Sokratis was unfortunate to have been forced off through injury on Sunday against Everton, particularly as the 2-0 victory was Arsenal’s first clean sheet of the season. The Greek centre back has been ever present in the league for Unai Emery at Arsenal, and deserved to be an integral part of the sides most solid defensive performance.
It is looking like the defender shouldn’t miss too many fixtures, which is important because Arsenal have a number of games coming up in several competitions. However, his basic defensive stats at this early stage of the season suggest that the introduction of Rob Holding mightn’t have such a negative impact on the squad.
Sokratis averages around 0.8 shot blocks per game, the highest of any player at the club. This demonstrates his willingness to get in front of attackers at the crucial moment, but is the only stat in which he stands out compared to his team mates.
He averages 4.5 clearances per game. This isn’t low, but is lower than both Mustafi and Holding, the latter of which has only played just over half a game of league football this season. He also rates lower than the German on tackles and interceptions.
We are only in his second month of playing in the Premier League, so he still needs time to adjust, but in order to warrant a continued first team place, and his £20m transfer fee, he needs to boost his defensive output.
It may be that as time moves on, and a solid partnership forms alongside Mustafi, that Sokratis becomes an integral part of the side. Until then, it will be interesting to see what Holding does with a prolonged spell in the first team.
It should be noted, that Arsenal’s first clean sheet came in the game in which Torreira got his first league start. It is plausible that Sokratis’s mediocre form thus far has been as a result of a makeshift midfield ahead of him.
But Mustafi has played behind the same midfield in every game this season. And the German doesn’t get off so lightly.