#UEL: Three things we noticed | Total Football News
Sokratis shows his class Sokratis was a surprise choice at right back in the FA Cup third round win over Leeds early in Mikel Arteta's tenure, and the head coach went for the same formula here, preferring not to break up the central defensive partners...

#UEL: Three things we noticed

Sokratis shows his class

Sokratis was a surprise choice at right back in the FA Cup third round win over Leeds early in Mikel Arteta's tenure, and the head coach went for the same formula here, preferring not to break up the central defensive partnership of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi, who had started each of the last four league games.

While Sokratis is never going to offer the same attacking threat on the overlap that Bukayo Saka does on the opposite flank, his experience was invaluable in helping to weather the hosts' early storm.

He more than played his part in our third successive clean sheet, and even hit the bar with a late header.

With nearly 100 Greece caps to his name, this was another very enjoyable night in Athens, the city where he started his career.


Arteta's Euro debut

It seems a long time since our previous European encounter - a 2-2 draw away to Standard Liege when Freddie Ljungberg was in temporary charge back in December.

Arteta spoke in his prem-match press conference about how seriously he would take the competition, starting with the Round of 32, and his team selection underlined that.

With Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira and Mesut Ozil all unavailable, there was always going to be some rotation from the side that beat Newcastle at the weekend.

But Bernd Leno kept his place for his first European appearance of the season, and Alexandre Lacazette was recalled up front.

Lacazette repaid his manager's faith with the crucial goal, while Leno also made several telling contributions, not least in the second minute when he kept out a Mathieu Valbuena volley.

It all means we are well in the driving seat heading into the second leg, and Arteta's unbeaten run has now reached nine games, making us the only undefeated English team in 2020.


Saka the creator

The teenager is making quite a habit of this. Bukayo Saka has now registered five assists in the Europa League so far this season, more than any other player in the competition.

The 18 year old has also netted twice in European football too, and is steadily becoming one of our most creative influences in the side, despite regularly playing at left-back.

Overall this season he's racked up nine assists in all competitions, more than any other player, and seems right at home in the Arsenal first team.

He's not neglecting his defensive duty either, he made a game high three interceptions against Olympiacos, and won possession five times in all.

It's quite a transformation for a player who only made his debut – also in the Europa League – little more than a year ago.

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Arsene Wenger
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