Unai Emery says he’s been very pleased with Sokratis’ contribution this season and hopes the Greek’s experience will prove handy when Arsenal face Napoli in the San Paulo’s feisty atmosphere.
The 30-year-old missed Monday’s win over Watford due to a two-game Premier League suspension, earned for picking up 10 bookings, but is set to be restored to the centre of defence tomorrow.
Asked whether his summer signing has grown in stature as the campaign has progressed, Emery said: “I think the adaptation first is important and not easy.
“It’s different for different players. We spoke about that with Papa in pre-season.
“His adaptation was with the time and the training, the matches are different in England.
“He took the big performances to help us like he is now.
“We are very happy with him and tomorrow is a big match so we need players with experience. He’s one of those players.”
Emery also praised Sokratis’ attitude to his work. “I have the confidence in every player,” he added.
“In this moment, every player wants to play, wants to help us, the behaviour is very good every day, the commitment to work and to be ready is fantastic.
“All the players that we have ready to play, like Papa because he was suspended in the Premier League, their commitment is fantastic.”
Tackling Napoli on their own patch won’t be a new experience for Sokratis. After Serie A spells with Genoa and AC Milan, he knows all too well how difficult it’ll be to close out the second leg.
“Tomorrow we have to play like the game is 0-0,” the Greek told the pre-game press conference.
“Napoli is one very good team. It will be difficult for us but we have to be focused for 95 minutes and to do our work, our style of the game.
“The atmosphere will be very good and I already played a lot here. For us, I don’t think that will change anything. We have experience, a good team, and we trust ourselves.”