Arsenal ‘ready’ for Fulham says Sokratis
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Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos insists the team will be ready for their match at Fulham on Sunday – despite their long-haul Europa League jaunt.
The Gunners completed a 5,000-mile round-trip to beat Qarabag 3-0 in Baku on Thursday night and touched down back in England just 56 hours before their midday Premier League clash at Craven Cottage.
Head coach Unai Emery somewhat surprisingly opted to take a strong 21-man squad to Azerbaijan, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka among the party.
But Sokratis, who scored his first goal for the club to open the scoring against Qarabag, is not preparing any excuses as Arsenal look to extend their winning run to nine matches in all competitions at Fulham’s expense.
“It is not difficult,” he said of the quick turnaround. “If you work hard – we work a lot and we progress all the time – we can cope with a lot of things. It is good that our coach tries a lot of things – good for the players.
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“I think we will be ready. We have all the staff who work very well after the game and I hope we will be fit for Sunday. It is very important – we need to win. It is very important for us to win and give everything.”
Sokratis, who moved to the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, returned to the side in Baku after missing two games with a dead leg.
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While Emery has guided Arsenal to eight consecutive wins for the first time in over three years, the Greece international believes there is plenty more to come from the team.
“It is very important that we have these eight wins in a row,” he added.
“We know of course we have to improve and we had a little bit of luck in some situations.
“We know this. But as the coach said we are in progress. We work every day to play better. And we hope in the next games we will get better and better.
“It is also important when you have clean sheets. But we know we have to improve because we know the other teams will have something to show on Saturday and Sunday.”
In scoring the first goal on Thursday, Sokratis became the first player in 22 years to score for Arsenal who had never played under Arsene Wenger.
The 30-year-old feels he is now up to speed with the English game and is comfortable playing as part of a back four or – as he did at Qarabag – in the middle of a three-man defence.
“It was different in the beginning because the training was harder and I was little bit tired,” he added.
“But I feel good and I am very happy to be here, where all these young players give their best for the team.
“I played in Borussia with three and four at the back. It is good that the manager works on a lot of situations and we learned a lot about what we have to do in games.”