Tag Archives: mavropanos

Sokratis – Just What We Needed

Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge was blighted by poor form, which led to his lowest ever finish as Arsenal boss.

This was a symptom of a brittle weakness that saw us carved open by teams who smelled blood, pouring from our soft underbelly. Teams who had no right, on paper, to destroy us in the manner that they did.

It was our defence, from monitoring runs in midfield through to naive offside traps, woeful zonal marking and a general lack of organisation. This was the culprit that saw Wenger’s reign end in such circumstances.

The very same players are available to Unai Emery in his first match in charge. Both men couldn’t be more contrasting in their approach, and one thing that can fill us with optimism is the Spaniard’s dedication to looking at our opponents.

Still, all the video’s in the world looking at the minutiae of another team’s attack won’t be of any use if the personnel expected to act on Emery’s commands are inept.

Laurent Koscielny is 32 and will be out for the first half of the season through injury.

Shkodran Mustafi has strengths, but in terms of organisation and maintaining concentration he very much failed last season.

Konstandinos Mavropanos looks a real steal, but has made just a handful of appearances. A dip will come, and we don’t know when, how long it will last, or what it could cost us. One for the future.

Rob Holding had a fantastic debut season, but last season showed how far he still has to go before he makes it. Looks increasingly likely to go on loan to get the first team games he needs.

Then there is Calum Chambers. The England prospect looked to be on borrowed time until the latter half of last season, but Chambers excelled when called upon, and an extended contract is a symbol of the faith placed upon him. He looked to be the chosen one to lead this defence forward – but if he is, he’ll have to wait until next season after going on loan to Fulham for the campaign.

Sokratis at former club BVB

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a recruit straight from the contacts book of a certain Sven Mislintat. The former Dortmund man is a seasoned veteran in terms of seasons spent in the top flight, having been with BVB for five seasons. Before that, he was at Werder Bremen for three seasons.

Interestingly, he was at AC Milan for two seasons, having been bought after impressing at Genoa. He made just five appearances in two years at the San Siro however, but what it does show is that he has experience from different leagues, which only serves to highlight why he will be so important.

Sokratis is now thirty years old. It means he will be our first choice centre back for probably a maximum of three to four years. What he can teach Holding and Mavropanos though, is invaluable. He has the potential to be a real hit in the teaching stakes, and the kids could soar next to such a grizzled warrior.

Sokratis is aerially strong and isn’t too rash either, something we can level at a host of other defenders in our past, and perhaps in our present. The partnership with Mustafi perhaps has shades of Campbell and Toure about it, with each defender performing different tasks. While Mustafi may not have the pace of Toure in his pomp, he is more than athletic, and is no slouch, as shownoften in recovering some messes he created himself in his time with us.

Sokratis has the physical edge we have been looking for, and he also is one who knows the seedier part of the game, a cynical slant, which will wipe the happiness from strikers faces, as opposed to before when they held no fear.

This signing is exactly what we need. Sokratis may only have a limited amount of miles on the clock, but if used right, and with the right partner, this could be a stroke of genius from our recruitment team.

Leicester City Vs Arsenal – PL Preview

We go to Leicester tonight, in a bid to finally end our torrid away record. We have two away games left in our season – can we win away from The Emirates in 2018?

After the fantastic send-off we gave Arsene Wenger at our last home game this season – the weekend’s 5-0 thumping of Burnley was a perfect display of football that Wenger adores – these remaining two games can seem a tad pointless.

But with an away record like ours, this needs rectifying. Now.

Foxes Vs Gunners

Also, this game is the perfect opportunity to blood our youngsters further, against top opposition. We can see them playing at the level they need to in order to make it at our club, and they could well represent our future.

Two players who seem like they have a bright future in the red and white are Konstandinos Mavropanos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The Man United loss a week ago was a close tun thing, and these two youngsters stole the show with their discipline and performance way above their years. The Greek defender should get the nod again as he did in the last two PL games, and with Koscielny out for six months, this could see a budding partnership with Calum Chambers.

Then there is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He started the season as a member of the squad, filling in at full-back. His displays are such, that he’s ending the season as a viable choice in central midfield.

With the contract situations hanging over Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, it’s a good thing AMN is showing his talents.

Mesut Ozil has probably played his last game this season, after Wenger confirmed his back complaint will end his season prematurely. That means there is a spot in our attack free too, and that could mean a start for Reiss Nelson, although he could also be used at full-back.

Jo Willock is another youth who could get the nod, and starting alongside Granit Xhaka means there will be an emphasis on his defensive duties. Wenger can have some fun with his selection here, although if he wants to destroy the away curse, then a strong side is the way to go. Our attack should be at full strength, with both Aubameyang and Lacazette set to start together again.

Then again, if he doesn’t give the kids a chance, then there will be the inevitable detractors who think this is the ideal chance for the kids to shine. With Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny also out, then the very least he can do is give some of them the first half.

For Leicester, Claude Puel is going backwards after a promising start as Foxes boss. They’ve lost their last few, and a home game against an undercooked Arsenal backline could be just what the Foxes ordered. They have the capacity to pack the midfield and clog our runners, and then with Jamie Vardy in their ranks, they have the perfect counter-attacking blade to slice us with.

Eight goals conceded in our last four away games, and just three scored. That’s what we have to contend with. Low confidence, tactics set to stifle, and poor form. With our win over Burnley, hopefully we have the wind in our sails.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mavropanos, Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal’s new defensive signing!

Rejoice! We’ve made a signing! We can relax as our defence has been bolstered by reinforcements!

Not quite, but before the naysayers pour scorn over the capture of Konstantinos Mavropanos, what can we expect from the 20 year old Greek defender who has cost reportedly around £2m?

We signed the youth starlet from Greek side PAS Giannina in the Greek Super League, and football experts from his native homeland have been raving about him since his debut in 2016, when he was just a teenager.

More importantly though, he is reportedly the first player that our new Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat, has been responsible for highlighting as a potential star for our team.

Making his professional debut in November 2016, he has scored three goals in a little over a season, and at six foot four inches, he is robust enough to be able to adapt to the physical challenges that the Premier League will unleash upon any new players.

He is on the international selection radar for Greece, and has already earned two Under-21 caps. His rise to prominence has been compared to another recent Greek starlet, Panagiotis Retsos, who recently was snapped up by Bayer Leverkusen at the tender age of 19, breaking the Greek transfer record in the process.

His recent displays have alerted Greek giants Olympiacos and AEK Athens, but thanks to our eagle eyed Mislintat, we have nipped in and grabbed a player who has massive potential.

Potential though, sometimes doesn’t bear fruit. As a Gooner, we know this all too well. Daniel Crowley, Jon Toral, Gedion Zelalem in recent seasons have all flattered to deceive, despite the talent they possessed. They need to have the adequate work ethic to ally with any blessings they have in skill.

Without that, they will fade into insignificance. Will Konstantinos Mavropanos be any different?

It is far too early to say. Players like Alex Iwobi and Ainslie Maitland-Niles have had moments when the jury has been out on their development, but it is clear that they have what it takes, especially when it comes to working on their game. If Mavropanos can work hard and make it count on the pitch, there will be no reason why he couldn’t make it.

If he has been rubber stamped by Sven Mislintat, then that really should fill us Gooners with a little cheer. Sven spied some world class talent from nowhere when he was at Borussia Dortmund, such as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembele – it proves his ‘diamond eye’ moniker is entirely deserved.

It is unavoidable that frustration will flow as our rivals inevitably strengthen their side with established names that can instantly boost the team. The window is an infernal pest that is an awful creation. We may well do more business yet. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

The odds on youngsters making the grade is low, but we can have high hopes for him. If he’s good enough for Mislintat – and if we can concede that Sven knows far more than we do – then he should be good enough for us.

If this comes good, then it could be another bargain in a long list we’ve had.

For now, let’s welcome Konstantinos Mavropanos to The Arsenal.