Former Arsenal ladies defender Alex Scott has said that Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi have failed to work as a central defensive pair because of the regular tinkering done by manager Unai Emery. The duo featured during the recent away trip at Leicester City, where the Gunners were convincingly beaten 3-0 after they had Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off in the first period.
She said: “I was thinking how I’m going to word this one. Look, the last performances there have been individual mistakes and that has been a repeat pattern. It’s because they’re working as individuals instead of a partnership. The tinkering has been there. I think it’s a miracle they’re competing for top four. What he’s done with this team and those players, you have to applaud. But it is, you eliminate the individual mistakes, then they could be higher up the table.”
Mustafi has been regularly made the scapegoat for the Gunners’ poor showing at the back but Sokratis has equally been guilty of doing so over the past few away trips. The former AEK Athens graduate had showed an improvement in terms of the defensive displays during the back end of the season but he has failed to impress since returning from a two-game domestic suspension.
The Gunners are currently two points behind Chelsea in the race for the fourth spot, but their chances of finishing in the Champions League places are dependent on the Blues dropping points. Elsewhere, they can qualify for the elite competition by winning the Europa League but the same remains tricky with Valencia to contend at the semi-final stage. The Gunners could thereafter face Eintracht Frankfurt or Chelsea in the final.