How will Mavropanos handle red card woe? Keown hoping promising Arsenal star avoids 'backwards step'

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The Greek centre-half has impressed in his limited outings for the Gunners, but a costly dismissal against Leicester has stunted his progress for now

Konstantinos Mavropanos must react positively to a first red card for Arsenal, says Martin Keown, with the youngster urged to avoid taking “a backwards step”.

Having been brought into the Gunners side for the final weeks of his reign by Arsene Wenger, the Greek youngster has impressed during his limited outings to date.

He was, however, to pick up an early dismissal in a 3-1 defeat at Leicester, with Arsenal struggling once again on their travels when reduced to 10 men.

Mavropanos will now be forced to wait until 2018-19 for his next appearance, as he starts an untimely ban, by which time the Gunners will have a new manager at the helm and potentially more defensive competition alongside him.

Former Arsenal defender Keown told the Daily Mail of a promising 20-year-old who moved to Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window: “I hope he does not take a backwards step as a result of the red card at Leicester. I saw enough encouraging signs from his performance against Burnley.

“Sean Dyche’s side had physical front players but he was more than capable of dealing with them. He is physical, quick and against Burnley did not look ruffled in possession.

“I saw a real warmth from the Arsenal fans for a player who was showing fight. When you play this way, you have to make sure you do not go below the line. Ultimately, you have to stay on the pitch.

“Mavropanos is only 20. It is massive for him to break into the Arsenal first team at his age. I was a similar age when I was first sent off — for Arsenal at Manchester City in 1986.

“I played in an aggressive way from the start of my career and if you get it wrong, you are off. It is massive for Mavropanos that he has broken into the first team.

“There is a contingent of young defenders at the club now, with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding. Arsenal have lost two central defenders with Per Mertesacker retiring and Laurent Koscielny out until December.

“The new manager needs to assess whether the young defenders are good enough and maintain a pathway for those who are. Arsenal need a top level central defender for one of these youngsters to play alongside.”

Laurent Koscielny & Per Mertesacker | Arsenal

Another former Arsenal stalwart, Sol Campbell, agrees that whoever takes charge of the Gunners this summer needs to make defensive additions a top priority during the next window.

He told Sky Sports: "Arsenal needs a really big tackler.

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"I think they're desperate for someone who can head, tackle… a good passer, who can really bring the back four voice. They lack voice.

"They need someone who's very vocal, who can start ordering people around the backline."

Mavropanos may become that figure in time, but for now he is being left to reflect on a tough Premier League lesson in a steep learning curve.

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