Sokratis Papastathopoulos spoke to Football London ahead of facing Arsenal for the first time since leaving the club.
The Greek international spent two-and-a-half years at the Emirates and knows everyone really well. He will know most of our secrets and that could well be used by Olympiacos to hurt us in Greece tomorrow.
Sokratis has been keeping an eye on Arsenal despite returning to his home country two months ago. He claims he has seen our last six or seven games, and expressed sympathy to Granit Xhaka who made a costly error against Burnley.
The former Dortmund man defended fans’ criticism of Xhaka by claiming that he was Arsenal’s best player in each of the five or six games prior to the one at Turf Moor.
He said: “Granit is one of the best team-mates I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He’s a very important player for Arsenal and I believe that he’s a good player who can be a leader in the team. When you make one mistake everybody will go against you, but I know Granit’s character.
“Before the Burnley game, he played five or six games where he was probably the best player in the team. I think he’s one of Arsenal’s best players and certainly one of the best midfielders that I’ve played with.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Sokratis is absolutely spot on.
Yes, Xhaka made a mistake that was completely avoidable on Saturday, but the way some people reacted was completely inappropriate. He has been one of our best players since Boxing Day, and everyone around him knows just how important he is.
The criticism of Xhaka has almost always been unfair. The former Gladbach man, when assessed fairly, is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, and the people who can’t see that just have an agenda against him.