Sokratis Papastathopoulos says Unai Emery is the best coach he’s had in his career, and he insists he’s improved a lot as a player thanks to the Spaniard’s coaching team.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 25: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal applauds fans after the match during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Sporting CP and Arsenal at Estadio Jose Alvalade on October 25, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 25: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal applauds fans after the match during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Sporting CP and Arsenal at Estadio Jose Alvalade on October 25, 2018, in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Sokratis has had a solid first season with Arsenal. He’s often been the team’s best-performing central defender, particularly before Laurent Koscielny returned from injury. He’s also had disciplinary issues though, with 12 bookings and one red card (as a result of two more yellows).

Nonetheless, the player himself believes he’s made significant improvements to his game this year, and he insists he has Emery to thank for that.

“He’s the best coach I had in my career,” he says. “That’s because I have improved a lot under him. I play faster than one, two or three years ago. I think more and I make better decisions and his coaches do a lot of individual work with us. You can also see that because of the number of young players coming through.”

Sokratis has certainly done well in the Europa League, bar that one game where he picked up a red card against Rennes. In his other 10 matches, Arsenal have kept seven clean sheets and he’s even scored a couple of goals at the other end.

Now they face Chelsea in the final, who Sokratis has had mixed results against. The defender played 90 minutes of the 3-2 defeat in August, but he also played the full 90 of the 2-0 win in January and provided an assist. Arsenal need more of that kind of performance on this occasion.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.