Mikel Arteta could use 2 Arsenal defenders impressing on loan

STUTTGART, GERMANY: Matheus Cunha of Hertha BSC is challenged by Konstantinos Mavropanos of VfB Stuttgart during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Hertha BSC at Mercedes-Benz Arena on February 13, 2021. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
STUTTGART, GERMANY: Matheus Cunha of Hertha BSC is challenged by Konstantinos Mavropanos of VfB Stuttgart during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Hertha BSC at Mercedes-Benz Arena on February 13, 2021. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Konstantinos Mavropanos and Daniel Ballard both helped their teams to clean sheets on Saturday, impressing despite disrupted seasons so far.

John Marquis of Portsmouth and Daniel Ballard of Blackpool grapple during the Sky Bet League One match between Blackpool and Portsmouth at Bloomfield Road on December 1st 2020 in Blackpool, England. Credit: Daniel / phcimages
John Marquis of Portsmouth and Daniel Ballard of Blackpool grapple during the Sky Bet League One match between Blackpool and Portsmouth at Bloomfield Road on December 1st, 2020 in Blackpool, England. Credit: Daniel / phcimages

Neither Konstantinos Mavropanos (23) nor Daniel Ballard (21) have had a smooth ride on loan so far. They’ve both had injury setbacks, and Ballard has also had to overcome a suspension early in his loan spell as well as a recent Covid isolation period.

As a result, it was great to see the two of them doing what they do best at the weekend.

Mavropanos faced FC Koln away from home with Stuttgart, and he had to make five clearances, three interceptions, and block two shots to help them to a clean sheet. He also completed 82% of his passes in their 1-0 win.

After his last appearance, we wrote about how Mavropanos is up there with the top players in the Bundesliga in terms of his tackles per 90. He’s playing every week at the moment, and he’s doing so on merit.

Meanwhile, Ballard was making his first start since mid-January for Blackpool, against tough opposition in Portsmouth. But he also managed to help his side keep a clean sheet with seven clearances, one interception, and two tackles. Neither defender was dribbled past once.

Still young for centre-backs, the pair will hope to get a chance under Mikel Arteta in pre-season this summer.

Unlike Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes, and William Saliba, Mavropanos is both more comfortable on the right, which could help his case. Ballard hasn’t fully settled into either side just yet, but he played on the right on Saturday.

If they can end their campaigns on a strong note over the coming months their chances of a pre-season inclusion will certainly improve.