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.