Mikel Arteta rates Pablo Mari’s debut for Arsenal against Portsmouth

Arsenal defender Pablo Mari against Portsmouth
The Spaniard looked assured in his first appearance for the Gunners (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta is confident Arsenal have signed a good player in Pablo Mari after the Spaniard gave an excellent account of himself in his debut against Portsmouth.

The Spanish centre-back, a January signing from Flamengo, had not made a matchday squad prior to Monday night’s FA Cup fifth round trip to Fratton Park.

But he was picked to start in an intimidating atmosphere on the south coast, partnering David Luiz in the heart of the defence and keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win.

Arsenal defender Pablo Mari
The defender celebrates after Sokratis gave Arsenal a first-half lead (Picture: Getty)

Mari had not played a match since the end of last year but showed no signs of rustiness, with Arteta very happy with how easily he slotted into the back-line and the qualities he added.

Asked about Mari’s performance, Arteta said: ‘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.’

He echoed those sentiments in another interview with Arsenal’s website, adding: ‘I think he looked comfortable.

‘He is very vocal and very comfortable on the ball, always commanding the back four and he looked like he’s played here for months. I think we have a good player.’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Arteta was very pleased with what he saw from his side on Monday night (Picture: Getty)

On the team’s performance as a whole, Arteta added: ‘To come here, to this stadium, with seven under-23 players, and to dominate completely is a little bit unrealistic.

‘But we went through that moment [at the start] and after that we started to take the ball and play in the opposition half and dominate the situation much better. We scored the goals and should have scored more.’

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