Arsenal could regret leaving Saliba and Sokratis out of the Europa squad

Why Sokratis and Saliba Should Be In Europa Squad by Dan Smith

So despite gooners complaining about a lack of creativity Ozil can’t even get into the Europa League squad. That’s an odd decision, but at least I can see how and why Arteta made that decision.
Wherever it’s morally correct? We had that debate but at least I got a bit of clarity.

What I don’t understand is how, when we have so many, maybe too many, centrebacks at the club, how have we left ourselves short for this Thursday?

I’m not being arrogant; the draw has been so kind to us it would take some of the worse results in our history to not qualify.

While it’s hardly a set of fixtures to catch gooners imagination, the selling point could be fringe players having 6 games to prove themselves.

Our manager should be able to name an entirely different 11 to the one who lost at the Etihad, or to be more precise if you are starting against Leicester, you shouldn’t be starting in Austria. Yet that might have to happen due to the squad we have submitted to UEFA.

Okay, our coach wasn’t to know Rob Holding would get injured (although his fitness record’s not great), but he knew Chambers and Mustafi are not available. As I write this, there’s an outside chance Mari might be fit but remember he hasn’t played since June. It means a David Luiz, Gabriel or both might have to play in Vienna.

Which seems backwards when Sokratis and Saliba are being paid thousands to just sit at home. Imagine if Luiz or Gabriel picked up a knock in midweek. Then we would be forced to start Saliba or Sokratis in the League, so isn’t it better to give them game time against lesser opposition?

So not just am I saying I would have included them in the squad, I would be starting them on Thursday and resting others for Leicester.

I’m not calling Arteta a yes man, but I think he’s smart enough to pick his battles and recognise what hills are not worth dying on.

I always maintained why we failed to attract a big name since Mr Wenger left is that managers of a certain status won’t tolerate lack of ambition. A Mourinho, for example, would pick a squad which gives him the best chance of winning.

Arteta has made certain choices that are not purely footballing decisions. When deciding if Sokratis should be selected, trying to force him out of the club was more important then what made sense for Arsenal. Like Ozil, they were trying to make an individual feel so unwanted he would take a move. That’s Arsenal prioritising money over what’s best for the team.

We know on the back end of last season the Spaniard doesn’t rate Sokratis, yet the Greek was professional enough to be trusted to be on the bench just in case. You can’t tell me that an international footballer could not do a job for us against Dundalk or Molde?

We paid over 30 million for Saliba, but we don’t think he can handle the level of the best teams in Ireland or Norway? It’s not like the kid hasn’t played top level football.

It’s only the positive energy Arteta got from winning the Cup that more hasn’t been made of the Saliba saga. Remember this signing was made when Arteta was Pep’s assistant. So either Arteta took one look at the teenager and thinks the recruitment team have made a mistake, or we accept personal things have gone on and he simply needs time. It’s just worrying he wouldn’t even get a chance against Dundalk.

I’m well aware that at the time of the squad being submitted, the hope was maybe Saliba would be loaned out and Sokratis would be elsewhere but that’s poor organisation.

Remember, 5 keepers were submitted. So when Arteta says rules meant he had to leave people out, he simply could have just selected three keepers, giving him options for two outfield players. Of the 5 he selected, two are now on loan so it makes little sense.

Don’t get me wrong, it will have zero bearings on us advancing to the knockout stages. I just feel a manager’s job is to get the best out of his resources.

We don’t need a world class defender for these 6 games, just a body to do a job while others get a rest. Sokratis would have done that job, while Saliba would have gotten some minutes to help his development.

I know some gooners like the ruthlessness of freezing out talent considered not good enough. Yet remember Sokratis is still being paid on Thursday night.

He’s earning a 100,000 pound a week to sit in his warm house by the fire, while the likes of Gabriel and Luiz have to start due to injuries.

If I was Luiz, I would be asking why am I playing three days before Leicester when you have two defenders sat at home twiddling their thumbs?

Surely if you’re paying him anyway, use him even if it’s to rest your first-choice defenders for Sunday?

Be Kind In The Comments


Tags Saliba Sokratis


  1. I personally feel that Arsenal as a club (NOT MA alone) are making tough decisions and taking a tough stance on players who are just not fully committed or able to deliver!

    Sokratis was told he would be put on the transfer list but instead opted to warm the bench. Ozil obviously has issues with the club so they are going to make him warm the bench too on the U23’s. It looks like the club are dealing with the pampered?

    I honestly think it’s about time the club got tough. For so long we have seen players turn up for a wage without consequence!

    As for the lack of options in defense? I can only guess that Holding will be fitter sooner than expected and that MA feels he has enough for tomorrows game. I’m sure he has worked out his best squad for all competitions and feels he has the right balance going forward this season. Time will tell!

    1. Totally agree !! dead wood was offered the chance to leave in the window !! But like you rightly said chose to stay for their high wages !! so if its money they want let them have it but dont let them on the pitch !! simple as that !!

  2. I agree on sokratis being left out. I’m glad the club is getting tough. I do not understand what has gone on with saliva. We know he is not going on loan so why is he not in the squad. Something very weird going on here.

    I know sometimes youth players do not need to be registered. O cannot quite remember the rules. Can anyone shed some light on this ?

    1. The treatment of Saliba is strange, given his potential, the need to integrate him into the Arsenal “system” and to build relationships and teamwork with the other players.
      The need for five goal keepers is hard to fathom.

  3. Arteta? Maybe they are instructing him to do things, I don’t think this are his selections .Sokratis,Saliba,Ozil and you pick 5 goal keepers? Seriously?

    1. I think you guys are over reacting on this five keepers thing.
      Of the 5 keepers, only 2 were non-homegrown( Leno and Runar) which are compulsory keepers to registers, so there is still no place for Sok and Ozil.
      The other 3 keepers are registered under home grown, so can you tell me which homegrown players was left out?

      So please stop complaining about 5 keepers and know the fact why they are there before you complain.
      My only concern is Saliba cos he need not be register as non-homegrown.

  4. Am so sure gabriel &Luiz dint HV to play this game. Chambers has bn in 1st team training for sometime. Elneny can comfortably play as a CB.

  5. Does The writer of this article know that Arsenal had no choice but to leave two Senior players out of the Europe and pL squad? If he knows this, could he have suggested the ones that Arteta should have left out instead of Ozil and Socrates? Sometimes we just write without due diligence. The only person that could have been in the squad is Saliba but at the time of submitting the list, he was bound to go out to France on loan but could have still been included in the under 21 list. So to me, that was the only error the manager made but even at that, he feels Saliba is not ready to play.

    1. Bless you sirjoe

      They only write just to criticise Arteta’s decision to leave those 2 out without confirming how many keepers was registered on Non-homegrown.

  6. If push comes to shove,we could play Elneny and Gabriel at CB against Vienna or indeed Luis and Xhaka.With Mustafi, Chambers and Mari likely to be back within 2/3 weeks we will soon be faced with a surfeit of central defenders so this is likely to be a very short term problem.As for Socratis who was in place before Arteta, he is a very poor centre back, which is why he is still with us.Finally is there any need for the cynical comments concerning Saliba or the need to mention the arrogant”special one” who, despite his egotistical spoutings is powerless when it comes to preventing injuries.

  7. It is claimed that one of the reasons (two) that Saliba was not given an opportunity to play because he is good enough at defending set pieces. REALLY!!! For more than a decade now, from the reigns of Wenger, Emery to Arteta, Arsenal has been very poor at defending set pieces. The next reason being he goes to the ground too often. I just don’t buy into this. When Arteta took over Arsenal, the defense was in shambles with far worst problems, yet, he worked with the defenders, who, had a lot more deficiencies. Saliba should have been included in the Europa cup league squad. He was ranked among the top five young defenders across Europe and the top fifty young talents with the likes of Saka and Martinelli. His junior defensive partner ,Fofana ,at former club St.Ettienne, just played the full match for Leicester city in the premier league . So, why can’t Saliba fit into the squad? Mari and Chambers are injured, yet,they were named in the squads. How much match time have they had in the last year? When do we expect them to be match fit and ready to play? There is certainly something fishy going on behind the scenes. From one of the brightest talents (Saliba) in Europe to a discard at Arsenal ,who has not been given an opportunity to prove his worth is shameful, considering the quality and fitness of the defenders at Arsenal. Arteta needs to work with Saliba more, as injuries to Arsenal players is just around the corner.

  8. DAN ANOTHER IN YOUR USUAL WELL ARGUED ARTICLES. Always good to read, even if only for that reason (and it is not ONLY for that reason, needless to add). On the surface, much of what you say makes a lot of sense.

    To my mind, I am genuinely surprised at Salibas omission and think there is something more in his personal life behind that decision. We know he lost his Mum and thats always hard, but something more than that, is my theory.

    What stood out to me was your separating money over what was good for the team! To me , they must be closely related and in fact be much the same thing, esp given our mean owner.

    Money and having the most avilable IS whats best for our team. We either get rid of KROENKE, which cannot happen quickly, OR we make the best of our limited resources. We all know the many past mistakes in recent years with catastrophic financial consquences. so I won’t revisit those now.

    But they do impact our future business and it seems possible , PERHAPS even likely, that MA would not have sanctioned the purchase of Saliba , were MA here back then. One mans mistakes can become another mans poison(Ozil being the worst and best example of this truism).
    I do think we are actively trying to isolate both Sokratis and OZIL in the vain hope that both will leave in Jan. I doubt that either will and I ALSO believe that MA would not pick a lazy player like OZIL IN HIS SQUAD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, IRRESPECTIVE OF HIS SALARY.

    But with the CB situation being that ONLY Gabriel is good enough at the level we need, any combinationof CB’s chosen in the squad will still leave us short the quality, evenif not quantity, of what we need, even though we should comfortable make it through the group stage.

    I enjoyed the read, as ever, though!

  9. Good article and one that asks the questions the fans want answers to. I am disgusted that Arteta is treating Saliba like a novice and not respecting him being first choice for a top french club. This is the time he andGabriel should form our future CB partnership. If Tony Adams as old enough when he came in then Saliba is definitely is. I am. Sick seeing only AFC take month stone sign players then stick them on the bench for weeks. It only happens to us…why ? play him now and release Thierny to raid from higher up the pitch. Finally we have a top CF in Lacazette so play him alongside Aubameyang every game. Saka one on

  10. I really don’t like the way that Sokratis has been treated, and find it very weird as well. People seem to forget that in 2018/19, he was probably our 2nd best player behind Lacazette. Comprehensively beat Harry Kane twice in the league, Lukaku, Hazard, and bullied they Bullies such as Barnes, Deeney etc. and was part of the reason as to why we went 22 games unbeaten. Even last season, pre-lockdown under Arteta, he played 8 games, 6 of which we kept a clean sheet and won and also scored in the FA Cup whilst playing out of position at right back.

    I understand that he isn’t the best on the ball, but as an out and out defender, he is the best at the club (barring new signing Gabriel now). So I just find it completely weird that he cannot even be selected in a 25 man squad (twice). You never hear him whining in the media, and never speaks out about anything. Always puts in 100% everytime he plays (go watch the last 5-10 mins of the FA Cup final where he came on and put in 3 crucial tackles and blocks, even not having played a single minute for 3 months prior).

    Something just doesn’t add up when it comes to Sokratis. For Ozil, I think there are various well known factors as to why he hasn’t been selected, but I just cannot get my head around the Sokratis omission.

    Am I missing something about him?

  11. I am certainly surprised and mystified by the Saliba situation. He was supposed to solve our defensive woes along with Gabriel and the lad does not even make the bench. As far as the Ozil and Socrates situation is concerned, it was expected but the Saliba saga is a mystery. Hope the lad plays sooner than later and shows his true potential which he is certainly capable of.

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