Ian Wright thinks Konstantinos Mavropanos should start on Thursday against Atletico Madrid, after the Greek defender performed impressively on his debut.
Mavropanos signed for Arsenal in January, but had to wait a few months to finally get his first minutes for the team. He’s already done enough in 90 minutes to convince Wright that he’s the man for the job in Madrid though.
“I haven’t seen a performance like this, the anticipation, the pace, the awareness, from Arsenal for a long time,” Wright told Match of the Day 2. “For a 20-year-old to come in and be as cool and as calm as he was is so impressive.
“I don’t think we’ve got anything to lose by playing him. He hasn’t done too badly against Lukaku. You could put him up against Diego Costa, I know he’s a different kind of forward but he looked like he was up for that battle.
“Sanchez was diminutive around him and he dealt with that pretty well. He’s fearless and has the exuberance of youth. It might work.”
Mostly the Greek defender has played for the u23s since coming to North London. He was just as impressive for the youth side though. It seemed only a matter of time until he got his chance.
The only reason that opportunity didn’t come sooner is the 20-year-old picked up a knock throwing his body on the line to prevent a goal in his last academy game.
In the end, his first senior start for Arsenal came at a surprising time, against a strong Manchester United side at Old Trafford. Nonetheless he did well.
Calum Chambers on his centre-back partner
Calum Chambers seemed similarly impressed with Mavropanos’ first match, speaking to reporters after the game.
“He did really well,” Chambers said. “He’s a good player, he was strong out there and he held his own.
“I thought he was composed on the ball and had a good game. I thought all the young players had a good game and you know, it’s just one of those. We feel we deserve more than we got.”
The team will just have to accept the result and move on now, as Thursday is much more important. Perhaps we’ll see Mavropanos get another shock start, who knows?