Konstantinos Mavropanos returned to the pitch for the first time in five months on Monday, playing for the u23s against Manchester City.
Mavropanos had to sit out the entire first half of the season for Arsenal, after suffering an injury that took much longer than expected to fully clear up. In his absence, the first-team struggled to put together any centre-back pairing or trio to play well consistently, particularly after Rob Holding’s injury.
However, the Greek defender is finally back, and he played 70 minutes for the academy to ease himself back into competitive match action.
Arsenal won the match 5-1, which is sadly the fewest number of goals they’ve conceded in a game since October. Whatever that says about the u23s’ defending in the last few months, clearly Mavropanos gave the back line more solidity.
According to recent reports, Arsenal’s first-team coaches believe Mavropanos is ready to challenge for a first-team spot, as soon as he’s fully fit.
The game against Chelsea is likely to be considered too great a risk, but perhaps the following league game against Cardiff would be a good option to bring him back into the side. Arsenal have Manchester United and Manchester City in the two fixtures surrounding the Cardiff game, so some rotation wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway.
Whenever he gets his first minutes for Unai Emery’s team, at this stage it’s good to see him back out there at any level.