Arsenal draft in unknown keeper Okonkwo and Mavropanos for Napoli clash

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ARSENAL have drafted teenage stopper Arthur Okonkwo and Konstantinos Mavropanos into their Europa League squad to face Napoli.

Gunners boss Unai Emery welcomed Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka back into contention this week and will hand the duo late fitness tests.

Arthur Okonkwo is likely to be on the bench against Napoli
Getty – Contributor

And if the pair are cleared, long-term absentees Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin will be his only injured aces.

Okonkwo, 17, and 19-year-old Eddie Nketiah will provide cover in the squad but Emery will be forced to play his stars against the dangerous Italians.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Nikola Maksimovic, Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam all missed Napoli’s last game through injuries and suspension.

But all four are available as the Serie A outfit host the Gunners in the Europa League quarter-final clash.

Koscielny’s absence, in particular, has been keenly felt by Arsenal with a lack of leadership at the back.

The Gunners lost their last game against Everton to extend their poor away record before heading to Italy.

Their defeat meant Emery’s side missed an opportunity to go third and land a blow on their top-four rivals.

Addressing criticism of his side, the former PSG chief insisted spirits were high in camp.

He said: “On Sunday we lost and after the match we were very disappointed.

“But after the first [training] session on Tuesday, everybody was positive because we remembered the bad moments in the Premier League when we were last in the table and when we were ten points behind Tottenham and Chelsea.

 


“Now we are with them because we are being consistent. We are in fifth but with one game in hand over Chelsea.

“It is in our hands to finish in the top four. And we are in the quarter-final of the Europa League with the possibility of [winning] a title and getting into the Champions League by winning the competition.

“I know the Premier League and the Europa League is going to be very difficult but we are going to be strong with good spirit.”

Konstantinos Mavropanos was added to the Europa League squad in February
Reuters

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