Martin Keown rates Pablo Mari’s debut for Arsenal following January move

Pablo Mari made his Arsenal debut in the FA Cup against Portsmouth
Pablo Mari made his Arsenal debut in the FA Cup against Portsmouth (Picture: Getty)

Martin Keown says Pablo Mari passed his first test at Arsenal after impressing on debut in the FA Cup victory over Portsmouth.

Spanish defender Mari joined the Gunners from Flamengo in January and played the entire match at Fratton Park as Arsenal beat League One Pompey 2-0.

Arsenal have the option of signing Mari on a permanent deal in the summer and Keown insists the first impressions are positive.

The Gunners legend told Goal: ‘He didn’t have a lot to do apart from his distribution. But he won everything when necessary.

‘You could see that he was a little bit short of fitness and that they are building him up. He looks to have the basis of a good player there.

‘There were important first steps on Monday night, even though he wasn’t tested that much because in the second half Arsenal completely dominated possession – it was a bit of a football lesson for Portsmouth.

‘I think he looked very solid, he has the height in inches. You look at the stature of the player and he won everything in the air.

‘He wasn’t rapid, but was quick enough to deal with all the situations. We were playing against a League One side who had a lone striker so he and David Luiz were able to boss him between the two of them.

‘I think it was important that he had Luiz alongside him to talk him through the game. Now we have to give him time, he has to be given more opportunities.’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was also impressed by Mari and said after the match: ‘He was very good, he was very solid, very vocal.

‘And we didn’t see the lack of rhythm that he has because he hasn’t played in two-and-a-half months I think but in general, overall, really happy.’

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