He has been one of few shining lights in a sub-standard defence this year, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos has had a fairly solid first-season showing in the Premier League.
The Greek centre-back has cemented himself in Unai Emery’s first-choice centre-back pairing – perhaps not an amazing feat ahead of Shkodran Mustafi – while adopting his no-nonsense approach into English football (receiving 12 bookings in 25 league appearances) may have given the Gunners backline some much-needed backbone.
But not all Gooners agree – with some brutal enough to suggest the 31-year-old calls time on his Arsenal career – as the frustrations of a fruitless season linger on into the summer months.
Some questioned his place in the first team, while others saw his age as a damning sign of the state of the current Arsenal defenders – with partner Laurent Koscielny and the outgoing Stephan Lichtsteiner both in their mid-30s.
Meanwhile, young compatriot Konstantinos Mavropanos is yet to prove himself in a Gunners shirt, while 23-year-old Rob Holding could go into next season as the club’s most senior central-back.
Sokratis can take heart from the otherwise widely positive reaction to his birthday – but these tweets suggest an improvement next year may get even more fans on board:
— WhySoHumble???? (@abdiqana99) June 9, 2019
Replacement needed urgently…
— Ole Gooner (@MukenyeJoseph) June 9, 2019
@Arsenal hope you’al are paying attention, our defence line is really ageing and its quite concerning, we are not in the Italian league where is fashionable to have grandpa’s in defence ????.
— ? Kvng_Dhurlz ? (@_Adedolapo_Babz) June 9, 2019
Sokratis 31, Koscielny 33, Monreal 33, Lichsteiner 35, Cech 37.
— SaadFooty (@warsamefooty) June 9, 2019
— Shubham Singh (@fcbshubham) June 9, 2019
For his Birthday he’d like the gift of defending.
— Tim Cabrelli (@timcabrelli) June 9, 2019
I’d suggest a one way ticket to Greece as a present
— Pat Fitzgerald (@fittzer) June 9, 2019
All our defenders are ageing.
— Sundaydallas (@Sundaydallas6) June 9, 2019
So old, time to go
— is?räf (@isyrafholmes) June 9, 2019