Konstantinos Mavropanos finally made his return from injury with the Arsenal u23s on Saturday, playing 67 minutes against Leicester.
Mavropanos has been struggling with a groin injury for the entirety of Unai Emery’s time with the club, returning to the first-team action just to suffer setbacks repeatedly.
The centre-back did feature against Burnley back in May, but the last time he played over an hour in a senior match was a year before that (May 2018), when Arsene Wenger was the manager.
Mavropanos’ latest comeback attempt is now underway though, with a start for the u23s against Leicester this weekend.
Making the lineup alongside Rob Holding, Mavropanos quickly showed his usual strength in the air, winning a few aerial duels from long balls. The centre-back was also confident in every physical duel, easily holding players off and winning the ball back.
It wasn’t all good news though. The centre-back wasn’t always positioned correctly, and his decision to overcommit with Tolaji Bola in one defensive situation led to Leicester’s opening goal.
If we’re being kind, that sort of tactical decision in the moment is a lot easier to make when you’ve been playing matches regularly. It can’t become a regular occurrence in further youth appearances though.
Mavropanos wasn’t the only player to return from injury against Leicester. Left-back Tolaji Bola made his comeback too, though worryingly he was withdrawn at half-time for another injury returner, Zech Medley.
Folarin Balogun had to pull out of England u19 duty over the international break, but he came back with a bang, providing assists for both of the Arsenal goals.