Sokratis: When we have to make a foul, make a foul

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One of the criticisms of Arsenal in recent years has been a lack of cynicism, or a group of players who are too nice, and there’s certainly some truth to that.

The need to snuff out opposition at any cost requires players to make fouls in specific situations, something we haven’t always been good at, but in Sokratis Pap the Gunners might have found someone to lead the way in that regard.

The Greek international is a defender who relishes the physical side of the game, and he showed a healthy dose of cynicism in the game against West Ham, picking up an 89th minute yellow card for a foul and then picking the ball up to prevent the Hammers from taking a quick free quick.

The score was 2-1 at the time, and it allowed him to get back into position and for his teammates to regroup, as well as ensuring that they couldn’t counter-attack by making the foul in the first place – clip here.

Speaking afterwards, the 30 year old called on his teammates do likewise whenever it was required to help make the team more defensively solid.

“We are experienced players and sometimes we have to be a bit more clever,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“When we don’t have the ball, in some situations we have to make fouls, we make fouls and take a card. Then we do not take the counter-attack.

“If they play with counter-attack, they can play with 30 percent of the ball but still make chances.

“We have to defend all together and work better when we don’t have the ball. We are very offensive but we have to pay attention when we don’t have the ball.

“When we came in, the manager said to us that we have to play better in the defensive part. We were better in the second half, but we still need work.”

The centre of our defence hasn’t been convincing in the opening part of this season, and while there’s a lot more to defending than making fouls, there won’t be too many Arsenal fans who’d find fault with this kind of outlook.

Saturday’s booking was his second of the season, he also picked up a yellow card in our opening game against Man City.

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Viva Vivas
Viva Vivas

Agreed. I’m feeling a little unsure of Pap at the moment. At times he looks decent but on others he looks like another Mustafi. Possibly not helped by lack of protection due to the WBs being too high up. Hopefully Torreira can help steady things a bit once he settles. He’s got to start the next game surely? Especially with it being an away game.

Arse City Blues
Arse City Blues

There were a few moments against WH where our defence was like a clusterfuck of individuals all turning this way and that, so far from the perfect line that would step up at the precise moment, arms in the air.

The centre backs aren’t the best, but there’s a lot more to our defensive issues than that, or a DM.

Good luck Unai. It’s going to be really tricky to plugs these gaps and create a solid unit back there.

Steve Vallins
Steve Vallins

IMO in the second half of Arsene’s reign at Arsenal the back 3 or 4 were exposed to the counter attack with 1on1 situations because how offensively we were set up .He relied and trusted in the defenders individual defencesive skills ( what he had in his first 10 years along with very mobile defencesive midfielders )
Mr Emery now wants a balance , collectively of attacking and defending with the right amount of players which I think will take a time to develope

Tequila
Tequila

Right, sadly most of our players tend to drop back and ballwatch instead.

It’s not going to be easy to unlearn these habits that have been drilled into the team by wenger.

Ajmal
Ajmal

Can’t argue with his philosophy

ViennaGooner
ViennaGooner

This was a perfect example for a good yellow card. It was late in the game, and i really liked him keeping the ball, making 100 % sure, they couldn´t play a quick counter.

I would really like to see how the defense would play with two dm in front of them (Gouendouzi und Torreira), that could be useful against stronger teams or in away matches.

Mootilated
Mootilated

There was a point were Ramsey was guilty of this. They started a counter attack down our left side and he barely tugged the guy to bring him down. I was screaming at the Television. ”just bloody pull him down!”

Anthony Hylton
Anthony Hylton

What was alarming was how many times high up the field we lost the ball and west ham were able to counter and be right on the edge of our box. Iwobi had to run the length of the pitch to dispossess wilshere. Another time iwobi lost the ball and it resulted in west hams goal.

thw14
thw14

Didn’t see the Ramsey thing, but agree that our midfielders or forwards should apply this side of their game far more. They can afford one yellow because it rarely becomes a second. Central defenders don’t have that luxury.

Arsenala Vista Baby
Arsenala Vista Baby

I hope when Kocielny is back, could help steady our defense.

Merlin’s Panini
Merlin’s Panini

Indeed, although Koscielny is a notoriously slow starter. Usually takes him a few games to get into his groove. We’ll need him to hit the ground running on his return.

Irrational Gunner
Irrational Gunner

Honestly. Would rather have Laurent at 85% percent than the two back there now.

Arse City Blues
Arse City Blues

If he dies, he dies.

I AM ARSENAL
I AM ARSENAL

Our midfield has been awful defensively for over a decade. How many can we name that could tackle._Song…? Flamini…__Out wide who has come close to Ljungbergs effectiveness.

Hurensohn
Hurensohn

I’ve not been too concerned about our CBs, it’s the rest of the team leaving them to do all the defending alone at times. The amount of times I’ve found myself counting our retreating players and comparing it with an equivalent number of attacking players leaves me uneasy.

Hantal
Hantal

Agree with this, if you look at West Ham’s chances how often did we see only two at the back

Futsboller
Futsboller

Absolutely agree with this. We need to keep the ball better when in the opposition half (too many giveaways last match), press the ball better in the opposition half, and cover our defence vehemently when it turns out we won’t get the ball back immediately. Liverpool and City (hate to keep pointing to these teams, but …) go full-tilt in attack, but they also go full-tilt in defending their end and always have 5-6 players back to defend the counter attack, with reinforcements on their way. We need to be better at that.

Sokratis’ yellow card tackle on Aguero just outside the box against City was a welcome sight to me. Last season, we would have let him walk in and likely dish out a goal, or taken him down in the box. Big Papa shut that down, and we need more of that (or less moments when we are put in that position, as above).

food for thought
food for thought

basically we need to add some bastardosity to our game.

1993
1993

A smidgen of shaolin soccer will do

Greg
Greg

Too right. The philosophy at man city is win it back within 5 seconds or a small tactical foul high up the pitch

Unfortunately we just look as though we are stupid with no game mgt as we let the opp glide on by

Bob's Mexican cousin
Bob's Mexican cousin

Even our ballboys need to change their behavior in my opinion. If they’re told to read the game and act accordingly they can have a marginal contribution to the tempo of the game.

We are up and they are looking to counterattack, you make the ball available slowly; we are down, get it as quick as possible.

A Different George
A Different George

Some of the best holding midfielders (Fernandinho, Kante) are adept at committing tactical fouls (for this purpose, an intentional foul to prevent a counter) so high up the pitch that they do not even look tactical–they stop the first pass after the opposition gets the ball, not the last. Someone like Kante makes a genuine attempt to immediately regain possession, with the full intention of committing the foul if he doesn’t (and he is never violent or looks reckless). I think referees should start giving yellow cards for this (since it is in fact an intentional foul), but they don’t and probably won’t.

Mpls
Mpls

Until Xhaka starts doing it, that is. Then they’ll throw reds.

One thing I wonder- will the card bias continue, now that Arsene has left the building? It was pretty obvious the referees and Arsene had tenuous relations at best.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

A huge number of fans at every club think there is a refereeing bias against their team…and they’re all wrong.

A Different George
A Different George

There is real evidence of referee bias (not intentional), in many sports, for the home team.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

Yeah, maybe….but that’s not at all what the original poster was suggesting.

Ealing
Ealing

Or they are all right

Mpls
Mpls

Kwame, you make a lot of strong claims. I’ll believe I’m wrong when it’s proven I’m wrong. While the Mike Deans of the world exist, I’ll stick by what I’ve said.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

To be fair in this instance you’re the one who made the strong claim. I just fundamentally disagree with any fan of any club who thinks there is a bias against his team. Referees can be poor, but the poor decisions in your team’s favour never stick in your mind when you come to weigh up any ‘bias’

sambo
sambo

I 100% agree, city and Liverpool do it consistently up the pitch in the opposition box. its the same foul that would get a yellow on the half way line but done so high up and before they break that it doesn’t go noticed.

Segun
Segun

Glad to see that someone else has picked up on that action by Sokratis. We need a couple of players willing to indulge in some of the dark art of the game, which is why I am rooting for Lichsteiner to earn a place at right back. He will go forward and make precise crosses, just as well as Bellerin and defend more stoutly, to boot.

Only if we can get 3 or 4 wins and a few clean sheets in the bag, will we start to see better cohesiveness in our defending, then some of those who somehow, still feel the need to blame Wenger for every negative thing about the squad today (even as he is no longer the manager) can hail Emery for working magic (after suggesting he needed to change more than half the team to succeed).

My point: nothing major wrong with the boys we have; just need to develop confidence in one another again and trust in the new methods. That’s what Emery is trying to do because he knows he has a good team on his hands.

A Different George
A Different George

I have watched Lichsteiner for a fairly long time for Juventus (Champions League only, not Serie A) and for Switzerland. Very fine, veteran player–but in addition to his clever “dark arts” side, he also has a genuine red mist inclination. I honestly am not sure how often he would stay on the pitch for 90 minutes if he played regularly.

Segun
Segun

I get the point you’re making but we do need that mean streak in a few in our squad (2 is enough, in my view); it helps. Fact is such players are able to play the averages to know when they may have overstepped the limits. He is always in the Refs’ faces while in Italy and won’t stand for any bullying. He will get a few yellows but should be able to avert reds.

Segun
Segun

Just took a look at his disciplinary records from 2009/2010 at Lazio, through to present time, including Internationals. He’s been a “good boy”, if you ask me. 65 Yellows and (wait for it) 1 Red card.

For the pesky character that he is, that’s not bad at all.

Eris

A Different George
A Different George

The 65 yellows does not surprise me, but I admit the single red shows a lot more self-restraint than I expected.

santori
santori

If Granit said this, people would be having a big moan.

Granit gets a yellow around the half way line and he gets criticised.

Torreira gives away a free kick on edge of box and crickets.

Go figure.

Mustafi makes plenty of clearances. Against West Ham, he made the most clearances heading the ball away and on one occasion cleaning up after a rebound off Cech.

But some people can only criticise the one or two mistakes he makes during a game.

Sokratis made two mistakes as well but less heard from same critics.

Watch the game again before making judgement.

And that said, agree with Sokratis but depends where you commit it.

I feel Sokratis isn’t the sprint king some may like to think but at very least we can leverage on his experience.

We need someone to perform as functional captain organizing us at the back. Sokratis has a good shout IMO.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

Sokratis the speed king ? Muat be people saying that in the same fantasy world where they said Jenks was world class.

Mpls
Mpls

They’re saying it because he was quite surprisingly one of the fastest players in the squad for a training speed test. It was in a post the other day here.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

So was Mustafi…the point I was making was disputing santori’s point that there is an anti mustafi bias. People are in no way discussing Sokratis’ speed as a stick to beat Mustafi with.

Charles
Charles

Can’t forget a game against s**** when we let dembele run right in front of the 18 and not bring him down till he was on the penalty spot. Give me a cynic foul anytime