Mikel Arteta and Arsenal will face Olympiakos in the first-leg Europa League knockout stage on March 12th, 2021. Subsequently, the Spaniard will meet Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who he had sent packing. Papa departed after Arteta arrived at the Emirates Stadium on December 20th, 2019. Consequently, his exit from Arsenal was on mutual grounds with the new manager. Hence, a return to Greece with Olympiakos, could not have come at a better time for him.
In an interview on March 11th, 2021, Mikel Arteta said, “I am excited to see Sokratis at his new club. He will be playing against us, though I want to witness how he has progressed with his new club. Papa has great character and he was a popular player at Arsenal for a long time. It will be great to see him again.”
Sokratis joined Arsenal during the Emery era on July 2nd, 2018. He provided much-needed stability to the gunner’s backline. Since then, he recorded three goals in forty-four appearances for the North London giants.
Following Mikky’s entry at Arsenal, he saw a staggering decrease in the first team games he played in. Mikel Arteta adored the thirty-two-year-old Greek international characteristics and used him whenever his preferred defensive pair, Rob Holding and David Luiz, was unavailable.
Mikky sold Papa to balance the books at Arsenal, as many players were on high-wage packets. Their output was tremendously low for the exuberant salaries they were pulling at the North London club.
Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal will shine bright despite struggles this season
Arteta seems to be under pressure to win games and achieve the Champions League through a Europa League trophy. However, he is not stressed in the least bit because he has seen what his team can do when the odds are against them. Before the game against Burnley on March 6th, 2021, Arsenal faced Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on February 28th, 2021. In that game, Arsenal was at odds to lose or draw with their opponents. However, the gunners strove forward and beat the foxes at their stadium.
Though the games ahead will not be as easy as Leicester, Arsenal under Arteta will go against the odds and win the games that experts believe will be hard for them. Mikel Arteta would give his team a dream end to the season with a fifth-place spot on the league table and the Europa League trophy in the Emirates Stadium trophy cabinet. Nonetheless, the thirty-eight-year-old Spaniard faces a lot of obstacles in his road to achieve that dream.
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