Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has revealed that he wants to see defenders ‘get more credit’, while he also heaped praise on Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk.
Sokratis joined the north London side in the summer of 2018 and has gone on to make 61 appearances for the club so far. This season he has been a regular in the team, starting 17 of his side’s opening 21 Premier League fixtures.
The Gunners have made a hugely disappointing start to the 2019/20 season and currently find themselves in tenth place in the league. However, they have won their last two matches in all competitions under new head coach Mikel Arteta, keeping clean sheets in two successive matches for the first time since October.
Sokratis has now opened up on a number of topics, including his team’s recent form and his reasons for becoming a centre-back. Growing up, he studied numerous defenders, with the 31-year-old claiming that he would analyse the Italian style of defending.
“When I was growing up, I studied the Italian style of defending. I’d watch defenders like Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro. Roberto Ayala was also very good. Then as I got older, I’d look at players like Carles Puyol. Players who won a lot and had a lot of quality, too,” Sokratis told Arsenal’s official website.
The Greece international went on to praise Liverpool’s Van Dijk, who recently came second in the Ballon d’Or rankings as a result of his stellar performances.
He added: “You’ve also got very good defenders now. What Virgil van Dijk did last year was something very difficult for every defender to do. Last year for him was perfect, especially for all the people close to him who helped him a lot.
“He was very good and it was a good year for him. With the way football is going in front, especially when everybody thinks about offensive players and how they can score more, I think the defenders need to start getting more credit.”
Sokratis proceeded to explain why he believes it is so challenging being a modern-day defender, adding: “Now, every team, or most, has to start from the back and exchange a lot of passes to arrive in the opposite area and to score. The more passes and more things you do, you also have more risk inside.
“For this, it’s more beautiful football, but also the teams concede more goals because the players are not robots. Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why being a defender these days is very difficult. I think it is one of the most difficult positions.
The player recognises his side’s struggles this season, but he believes the team has plenty of quality. He continued: “We have had some difficult moments this season and we know we need to improve, but we have the quality to do it. We just need the confidence.
“The thing that carries me on is to win the game, go home with the three points and to do the good work and make a positive difference.”