Put a Sok in it! Portsmouth report & player ratings

Sok it to me!

Many of the greatest footballers ever to have graced the turf have preferred to go by a single moniker.

Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zico, Perrygroves to mention but a few. Well, now we can add a new hero to that list: Sokratis.

I had always assumed that our tough Greek defender chose to go by his forename because of the obvious difficulties associated with his surname, which contains 17 consonants and 23 vowels. If his surname were printed on his Arsenal shirt it would start on his back, wrap round his chest and trickle down his leg.

But today we know better. Today Sokratis joins the pantheon of mononymous greats on merit alone. His goal just before half time in last night’s F.A. Cup fifth round tie at Portsmouth was perfectly timed and perfectly taken.

When Mikel Arteta’s line-up was announced for the game and Sokratis was in at right back, I commented that “he’s not a bad player, but he’s no right back.” Ahem… what I meant was that really he’s a Number 9. Honest.

The line-up had nine changes from the team that lost so dispiritingly to Olympiacos last Thursday, with El Patron deciding to give youth a chance.

Martinez was back between the sticks. The only truly experienced heads were at the defensive end of things (Sokratis, Luiz, Mari on his debut and Torreira). Apart from them it was the Arsenal creche all the way: another start up front for Nketieh; Martinelli and Nelson out wide; Doozy and Willock (who sound like a cartoon duo) in midfield and Bukayo Saka at LB/wingback.

I, for one, was very pleased to see such an exciting young line-up, but when the game started it took some time for our lads to get into their stride.

In front of a boisterous and confident Pompey crowd it was no surprise that the home side started with energy and enthusiasm and had the better of the first half, with a couple of half decent chances (including, worryingly, some more or less uncontested headers in our box).

For our part we mostly passed sideways and backwards and sideways again. In comments I described it as “constipated football”. We had one or two good moments (with Saka on the left and Nelson on the right) but were a bit toothless.

To listen to the BT Sport commentary team you’d think we were being humiliated by the League One team, so desperate were they for every sports journalist’s wet dream, the ‘big cup upset.’ 

In fact, lackluster though we were, we dominated possession and neither team really looked like scoring. The most significant moment of the half (until Sok’s late strike) was what looked like a nasty injury to Torreira. He was piled into by the Portsmouth centre back James Bolton who won the ball fairly, but whose follow-through was borderline reckless. The Terrier went off on a stretcher to applause from some of the home fans but abuse from others. Reports today suggest the injury may not be as serious as it looked last night.

And so to the Sokratis goal. Great work down the right from Reiss Nelson (not for the first time) saw a low cross fired in which was volleyed home by Sokratis with all the aplomb of a van Persie or Bergkamp. It was a crucial strike, deflating an “up for it” Pompey just before the break.

We opened the second half with an equally powerful dagger blow. Nelson again dong excellent work on the right wing and putting in a cross which was met by Nketieh’s well-judged run. Even so, the striker had a lot to do to control the ball at high speed and get it past the Pompey ‘keeper. A really high quality goal.

From then on we dominated possession and created more chances. The wind had well and truly gone out of Pompey’s sails and we never looked like relinquishing our lead.

And so we move on the quarter finals of a competition that this club has made its own. Here’s hoping for a good home draw…


Player Ratings

Martinez 6

Looked shaky under high balls once or twice but was tidy with most of what came his way.

Sokratis 7

Got skinned at right back several times in the first 20 minutes, but seemed more solid afterwards. Superb (and important) strike for our opener.

Mari 7

A very tidy debut by the big Spaniard. He’s a physically imposing figure but I was also impressed with his good footwork. A promising start.

Luiz 7

Didn’t do much wrong and brought the ball forward well at times. Doesn’t entirely inspire confidence aerially in our own box.

Saka 7.5

This lad never lets us down. Solid defensive play and always a threat going forward.

Torreira 6

Was doing fine until clobbered.

Guendouzi 7.5

Typically energetic performance from Doozy. He must be such a nuisance to play against. In general he used the ball well as well, although he is undoubtedly hampered by his one-footedness. Got booked for taking the piss out of Mike Dean, whoch earned him an extra half a point.

Willock 5

The one youngster who struggled on the night. He did not seem particularly at the races and looked absolutely knackered from about half way through the second half. Perhaps he’s carrying an injury? Even so, games like this are to be expected from young players.

Nelson 8 MoTM

A coming-of-age game for young Reiss, who has shown flashes of brilliance in earlier games this season but never had as big an impact as he did last night. More of this and he’ll be pushing for starts ahead of Pepe.

Martinelli 7.5

Great all round attitude and effort, with plenty of skill to go along with it.

Nketieh 7.5

Took his goal beautifully (in terms of the run, the control and the finish) and worked hard pressing from the front when Portsmouth had possession. He’s making a strong case for being selected ahead of Lacazette on a regular basis.


Ceballos 7

On early for the injured Torreira, Dani was tidy and gritty. Sold outing.


On late too late to get ratings.


50 Responses to Put a Sok in it! Portsmouth report & player ratings

  1. LBG says:

    More literary genius, Rocky. In total agreement, as usual. Thank you from all AAers for your efforts.

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    Nice write up Rocky. More Brazilian Socrates than Greek Sokratis. 6th round here we come!

    I watched the game on the box last night. A few observations:

    – Nelson is quick. Haven’t seen this from him before
    – Mari looks solid if a little awkward
    – Torreira was taken out by a professional foul. I’ve played football and know if you follow through at speed you will hurt the opponent. He was lucky not to break a leg
    – Mike Dean is incompetent and dodgy. How is he still reffing?
    – Jermaine Jenas is complete fool. Some of his comments were laughable and not out of place in a school playground
    – Portsmouth fans looked like they needed help getting dressed in the morning

  3. Rasp says:

    Hilarious and very clever Rocky .. thank you.

    Let’s be honest, Sok was struggling to deal with pace at RB as he had done in his previous outing in that position, and it looked like they were targeting their attacks down that flank – but I love his attitude and the clinical power with which he smashed the ball into their net was Poseidon-like.

    I’d often wondered why Nelson had been preferred to Eddie last season (Eddie went out on loan) … well now I know. He’s a clever winger with pace to burn and a locker of tricks. He’s not afraid to take on full backs and can deliver a decent cross … I saw massive potential there last night. Let’s hope he’s happy to develop as a winger and doesn’t harbour ambitions to play centrally because he’s made for the wide role.

    I agree Willock struggled, and not for the first time this season. his best performance for us was when he came on in the EL final. I think he has potential but needs to play with more urgency when going forward and to be quicker to get back into defensive position when we lose possession.

    … but …. I’m delighted we’re through to the quarters. we thoroughly deserved it whatever the muppets in the commentary team said … I had to laugh because once we’d won, they rewrote their own history and said we were the better team and our quality shone through.

    I don’t really care who we get in the next round because we will probably have to beat at least two top teams to win the final.

    Last word … come on you canaries 😆

  4. Sue says:

    Nice one, Rocky 👌 Guendouzi earning an extra half a point – love it!! I’d give him motm just for that!!
    Didn’t like those moronic few chanting “You’re going home in an ambulance” just have to ask yourself why??? Smh!!
    We’re through! Spot on…… now does this mean I’m gonna have to cheer the Chavs on later??

  5. Rasp says:

    The tackle on Torriera was reckless and the player should have received a yellow card. Just getting the ball doesn’t make it ok to go through a player. The stakes are extremely high these days. a tackle like that can affect a players’ career. I was saddened that Martin Keown was so ignorant in his assessment. He’s an Arsenal great but he wasn’t exactly the most cultured of players.

  6. RC78 says:

    Nelson showed some real promise and I am hoping he can build on yesterday s second half performance to gain momentum and finally kick start his AFC career.

    Douzi had a great game and I think he can still improve in the way he receives the ball and also with his passing but was his best outing in a while

    Nketiah is a good squad player but csn he score goals regularly. I am not convinced yet but I am hoping he can.

    Willock has been disappointing this year and his form is not improving…

    Mari had a good day at the office and so did Martinelli.

    The rest was fine with Sokratis scoring a nice and unlikely goal.

    Arteta still not convinced by AMN…

    3 more games to win the Cup!

  7. LBG says:

    Agree with your assessment of Torreira tackle. Pundits and referees cannot have it both ways. Excessive cannot be judged by Keown long gone standards, or by Dean ” I have never liked Arsenal and everyone wants the underdogs to win in the FA Cup” standards. It needs to be judged, as subjectively as possible, as FAIR. Anyone without prejudice (and I am of course prejudiced!) last night, and knowing the rules as of 2020, would have found differently to Dean. I would not have sent him off though and produced only a yellow.

  8. fred1266 says:

    Now watch some highlights and yes Nelson looked really good I must say , we seem to be getting a lot of goals from crosses now

    Is Eddie officially first choice striker now he has started in the last two league games and has put away his chances

    How was martinelli yesterday?

  9. LBG says:

    Mikel says
    “Ainsley must put his head down, and show me in training he wants (his place in the team) more than anyone else.”
    And there is the crux for the most laid back member of our squad. Can he prove to Mikel he has that motivation in him. I hope so, but have some doubts myself.

  10. Rasp says:

    Martinelli was very good Fred. He worked tirelessly and frequently ran back the full length of the pitch to defend. He was very strong and stood up to their ‘hard challenges’. I get the impression he thinks he needs to score every game .. as every striker does, but his contribution in build up was worth his place in the team alone.

  11. fred1266 says:

    But I think he did so well at RB, for sokratis to get the nood over him means things really bad

  12. fred1266 says:

    That good to hear

    Do you guess martinelli should be our striker or keep him on the left

  13. Rasp says:

    I guess he played on the left to accommodate Eddie who seems only to play centrally. Eddie is clearly a goalscorer/goalpoacher, whereas I think Martinelli can play any of the front 3 positions.

  14. fred1266 says:

    Yea sue it would be nice to Liverpool lose 2 in a row wouldn’t it one thing that helps me when I want chelsea to win is seeing Giroud happy since I still route for him

  15. RockyLives says:

    Good day all and thanks for the comments.

    There are some really exciting prospects coming through at Arsenal right now. I’d say the best we’ve had since the early George Graham years when the likes of Adams, Merson, Rocastle, Thomas, Davis and Hayes emerged.

    If we can keep the best of them it will save us a fortune in the transfer market and give us a chance of competing for top four next year.

    I reckon Saka, Nelson, Martinelli, Eddie and Gwen all have the potential to become regular first teasers (some are already).

    Willock, AMN and Martinez… maybe but they need to step up a bit.

  16. RockyLives says:

    I feel the same about Giroud. Can’t help but like the guy. He did nothing wrong at Arsenal and would have been happy to stay with us I think.

    As I’ve written before, he’d be a great asset now if we had him. Not necessarily as a starter but as a powerful option off the bench.

  17. LBG says:

    Fred, Fred, Fred…..if and when we have no Laca and no Aubang, play Martinelli close alongside Eddie as a two up front. Nelson. Smith-Rowe and Saka behind.
    Give yoof a chance!

  18. Sue says:

    Fred.. and tonight at Stamford Bridge, we’ll hear the Steve Gerrard chant, which always makes me chuckle!!
    Giroud will play tonight, for sure!!

  19. RockyLives says:

    Ah! I forgot about Smith-Rowe…

    He could be part of our great future too.

  20. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Loved the Post, and I cannot stop myself from comparing you to Super Sue — because with your erudition, and eye for detail, you will soon be challenging the said Sue for top dog billing. 😁

    In the piece, you referred to Sok’s surname dribbling down his leg, but I don’t know about that, as his surname, ‘Passthepolos’ is rather lip smacking, minty and round.

    Between you and I, you also seem to have missed out on the solitary moniker of one of the games greatest ever players, namely Romfordpele, but I won’t mention it.

    Good job! 😳

  21. RA says:

    Rock man,

    The youth players of all clubs, at various age levels, get culled every season to allow other younger and potentially more skilled youngsters to get their chance to impress.

    But the most dangerous age for the young aspirants, in my opinion, which is always right, of course, except when it’s wrong, is 20 years of age.

    Why? well sometimes it turns out that talented youngsters big up their careers, because they have become young millionaires, and stop keeping their heads down and trying to improve their skills, which leads to the club giving them the long goodbye, by sending them out on loan, never to return, or simply making them available to other clubs for nothing, nada, zilch.

    Why? (again) because, without being too rule-spouty, when a player turns twenty one during the period of a current season, the Premier League clubs can only register 25 players over the age of 21 for that season’s first-team matches, and because the clubs usually want to buy 17 ‘superior’ foreign players that leaves only the minimum 8 Home Grown Players in the squad, so any increase in the HGP, reduces the number of Non-Home Grown Players in the squad.

    So, for example, AMN, made the cut at 21 and is included in the first team squad, but if he has not improved since (see Mikel’s comment) he will likely go to allow someone else (currently Under 21) to become a squad member when he, or they, reach 21 y.o.

    That is why so many get the long goodbye out on loan, or force the sale of someone else currently in the first team squad.

    [There has been some talk of increasing the current minimum requirement of 8 HGP, currently in the PL squads, so as to increase the career chances of young home grown players, but that would mean a forced reduction in the numbers of expensive foreign players — but Shitty, Manure and Piddle are objecting to this – so I have heard – I wonder why? 🙄

  22. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Redders – I didn’t know that but it casts a very interesting light on things.

    What with Arteta’s comments to/about AMN, it certainly seems young Ainsley is getting close to the departure lounge unless he suddenly bucks up his ideas.

  23. fred1266 says:

    LBG that why I ask cause I think when Tierney is back saka would move to his natural position, then was wondering who would start at striker over Eddie and martinelli

    Would be nice to see 442 again wouldn’t it

  24. LB says:

    Fascinating little duel going on between Pepe and Nelson on the wing for the right to call that spot his own; it has swung backwards and forwards all season and just when you thought that Pepe had it sewn up Nelson puts in superb performance like that and it is all to play for again. Very intriguing.

    Superb read Rocky, thanks as ever.

  25. LB says:

    My money is on AMN staying. Arteta has given the work hard in training speech about Ceballos before relaunching him, the Spaniard, however, I expect to leave at the end of the season.

  26. LBG says:

    Yes Fred, I think the future, post Mesut, is 442 and I think many of those positions we have talent lined up to fill. The future’s bright for me, and of course, always RED.

  27. LBG says:

    Never happy praising anything to do with Chelski, but like the look of Gilmour.

  28. LBG says:

    Hope you are not leading that Steve Gerrard, Gerrard song!?

  29. Sue says:

    LBG.. 😂 I might be haha!!!

  30. Love the post Rocky, always been fond of mononymous person myself and Socratis has joined our hall of fame.

    LB made a good point earlier about the competition between Pepe and Reiss Nelson for a spot on the right. I loved how direct Nelson was compared to Pepe’s faffing about around the box.

    Great battle going on between the player formally known as Gorgeous Giroud ❤️ and van Dijk at the Bridge. Love the way so many of us still love Giroud even though it’s kind of weird.

  31. Rasp says:

    Just watching the chavs v pool game. Ian Wright says he speaks to Eddie regularly and gives him encouragement … he’s a big fan.

  32. fred1266 says:

  33. LBG says:

    The moment our youngster scored those goals as a sub, followed by Bielsa deciding an ex lumbering ex Chelsea centre forward was his choice as a CF, Eddie was destined to be a future star…..a new Anelka.

  34. LBG says:

    Medley stars for U23 against Monaco. Two goals.

  35. LBG says:

    And Balogun…….what a name for an Arsenal player.

  36. LBG says:

    I0 minutes in the sin bin you cheating b******, Milner!

  37. Sue says:

    Wow!!! Am I dreaming?! Liverpool have lost 3 of their last 4 games, in all comps, and haven’t scored in any of them! Nice!! Sweet!! Beautiful!!

    Great goal from Barkley.. nice howler from Adrian.. and out of everyone on that pitch, an 18 year old picked up MOTM – nice one!!

  38. So enjoyable watching football when you don’t really care which side gets beaten 😁

  39. We’re going to need some posts to fill the next few days so if anyone fancies writing something send it through to arsenalnuts@live.co.uk


  40. Sue says:

    😆 Peaches.. no pulling out the sofa, no pacing up and down and no racing heartbeat tonight haha!!

  41. Absolutely Sue 😁😁😁

  42. LBG says:

    On this day in 2008, Arsenal become first British team to beat AC Milan in San Siro ( an old but awe inspiring stadium).
    The joy of Cesc and that tall, loud one who played for Totteringham and Manshitty.

  43. Sue says:

    So our game with City is next Wednesday 7.30pm ko…. Mikel, the return!! Quite looking forward to that 🙈 haha!

  44. LBG says:

    Craig Burley…..who???? reckons we should sign Mexican Raul Jimenez from Wolves. Have we had any luck with Mexicans in the past, AAers?

  45. RockyLives says:

    Have we had any Mexicans apart from Carlos Vela?

  46. Just sorting a post from RC78 …….. back in a while …

  47. One of my favourites LBG 😁

  48. Sorry can’t find an English commentary

  49. LBG says:

    No Rocky. Just trying to ” wake up the World”.
    Carlos was King for a while.

  50. We have a New Post ……………

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