- Sokratis opens scoring
- Smith Rowe, Guendouzi bag 1st senior goals
- Ozil, Lacazette on bench
- Aubameyang, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan left home
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Emile Smith Rowe, and Matteo Guendouzi scored in Azerbaijan as Arsenal popped Qarabag 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
Arsenal is now 2-0 in group play while Qarabag falls to 0-2. Arsenal now get Sporting Lisbon back-to-back in one of the league’s best group stage pairings.
[ MORE: Europa League standings ]
Arsenal, clad in red shorts to go with their red shirts, controlled play early and went ahead within a few minutes of said control.
Mohamed Elneny‘s corner kick was headed towards goal, and Sokratis was onside to redirect the ball over the line.
Emile Smith Rowe was very close with a sliding effort to meet Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to the back post in the 18th minute.
Bernd Leno made a fine save on Filip Ozobic in the 40th minute, with Sokratis clearing the rebound.
[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
Qarabag thought it was level in the 49th minute, but Mahir Madatov’s run was a split second too early before the Azerbaijan international slotted past Leno.
Arsenal made it 2-0 under pressure, with Smith Rowe running onto a feed from Alex Iwobi in the 52nd. Then Guendouzi joined Smith Rowe with historic career moments by potting his first senior goal.
Arsenal has a new No. 5, as Unai Emery brings another former Borussia Dortmund man to the Emirates Stadium.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos — you can just called him Sokratis — is the latest player to join the Emery revolution in North London.
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The 30-year-old center back has 79 caps for Greece, and a reported $24 million price tag.
He brings consistency, if not stardom, to Arsenal’s back line, and is reunited with former BVB stars Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Sokratis joins Stephan Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno, and is not the only Greek on the roster. Konstantinos Mavropanos joined the club last season.
He spent five seasons with Borussia Dortmund, making a career-high 43 appearances this season. Sokratis won Serie A with AC Milan in 2010-11.
Unai Emery is set to acquire one of the first piece of Arsenal’s necessary defensive revolution.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos is the piece, a mainstay of Borussia Dortmund’s back line who will cost the Gunners around $21 million according to the Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke.
The 79-times capped Greek center back turns 30 in June, having authored 198 appearances since arriving from Genoa.
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Only BVB goalkeeper Roman Burki played more Bundesliga minutes for the club this season.
From The Independent:
Mislintat knows 29-year-old Sokratis well from his own time at Dortmund and now Arsenal are in advanced negotiations to bring him to the Emirates. Arsenal initially offered roughly £13m but they are expected to meet Dortmund’s asking price of £16m to complete the deal this week. Sokratis has one year left on his Dortmund contract and is eager to join Arsenal.
Emery went with a four-man back line for much of his time at Paris Saint-Germain, and has to decide whether Laurent Koscielny can bounce back from a rough campaign.
Sokratis would join countryman Konstantinos Mavropanos, the 20-year-old who was Mislintat’s first signing at Arsenal, as well as Koscielny, Shkrodan Mustafi, Calum Chambers, and Rob Holding.
Arsenal could have its successor to Arsene Wenger by the end of the week.
That’s if talks with former Gunners midfielder and current Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta go well.
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Already reported as a clear favorite for the job, Arteta will speak with the Gunners brass on Thursday. Sky Sports also says he’d be allowed to bring his own backroom staff.
Pep Guardiola won’t stand in the way of his assistant moving up in the Premier League world, and it would certainly be interesting to see how Arteta would attack and defend his former side.
When Arteta retired from Arsenal in 2016, he was a teammate of several current Gunners’ stars including Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin, and Nacho Monreal.
Meanwhile, the Metro is reporting that Arsenal is ready to spend $102 million on Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu, Borussia Dortmund center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Borussia Dortmund took out its angst from a midweek loss to Spurs at Wembley by hammering Koln at the Westfalenstadion on Sunday.
BVB got a bit of help from Video Assistant Referee on its second goal of the 5-0 blowout, which kept Koln dead-last on the table with zero points.
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Sokratis Papastathopoulos made the score 2-0 in first half stoppage time, though the referee initially blew the whistle at the thought of a handball from Sokratis.
VAR reversed the call, and Dortmund went on to win 5-0. BVB is back atop the Bundesliga with 10 goals scored and the side is yet to concede in league play.
Maximilian Philipp and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both recorded braces for Peter Bosz’s BVB, while USMNT teen Christian Pulisic came on for Andriy Yarmolenko in the 66th minute.