Many Arsenal fans were excited to see defender Konstantinos Mavropanos start his first Premier League game of the season against Watford.
The Greek international has been plagued by a groin injury which kept him out of action until the New Year, but with Sokratis suspended for the game on Monday night, manager Unai Emery gave the young centre-back his chance to impress.
On the face of it, playing against ten men for most of the 90 minutes isn’t the best example to use if you are going to assess a defender’s performance but it’s fair to say that Watford gave the Gunners’ backline a stern test even with reduced numbers.
So how did the 21-year-old fare at Vicarage Road?
According to Wyscout, Mavropanos made five interceptions in the 90 minutes he played against Watford, which is above Sokratis’s average (4.47 per 90 mins) but below Laurent Koscielny (6.19) and Shkodran Mustafi (6.2) over the season.
Against Watford, teammates Mustafi (11) and Koscielny (10) did put make double the number of interceptions which suggests the Greek international is not as proactive in his defending.
Mavropanos made no attempted slide tackles against Watford so this metric is probably not too relevant for comparison at the moment. We will need a larger sample size of games to make a judgement on how he compares to his teammates in terms of % success per 90 minutes.
Blocked Shots and Clearances
The defender made two clearances and blocked one shot versus the Hornets. In contrast, Koscielny made seven clearances and blocked one shot while Mustafi also made seven clearances.
From the statistics, it’s clear that Mavropanos was far less inclined to boot the ball clear, although he may have simply been under less pressure from opponents when he was in possession of the ball.
Defensive Duels (one-on-one encounters with opponents where contact is made)
Mavropanos was involved in one defensive duel against Watford and lost it (0%). If you compare that with Koscielny (30.1%), Sokratis (29.1%) and Mustafi (33.8%) in terms of percentage of defensive duels won over the whole season, he will need to improve in this area. As it’s one game though, the statistical significance is negligible.
Mavropanos won one of his two aerial duels (50%) compared to Koscielny who lost both of his aerial duels (0%) and Mustafi who won 10 out of 11 (91%) of his headers.
In terms of the season, Mustafi (59.5%), Koscielny (52.6%) and Sokratis (59%) do, on average, win over half of their aerial duels with their opponents so the Greek star is in the right ballpark for his performance on Monday.
Analysing the data from just one performance doesn’t always help us determine how successful a player will be but there were certainly some promising signs. Will he be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive woes? I think it’s too early to tell.