Pablo Mari’s Arsenal debut assessed by Martin Keown after FA Cup progression

Arsenal beat Portsmouth 2-0 on Monday and Pablo Mari had an impressive debut.

The Spaniard helped keep the home side at bay to ensure that the Gunners will be in the hat for the quarter-finals as they go in search of their first trophy since they won the competition in 2017.

Martin Keown, who won the FA Cup three times during his spell at the club, has now given his thoughts on how Mikel Arteta’s new defender performed.

The former England international told Goal: “He didn’t have a lot to do apart from his distribution. But he won everything when necessary.

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“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.”

Mari started alongside David Luiz to provide a much-needed option on the left hand side of defence, with Keown going on to praise their partnership.

He added: “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.

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“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.”

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Arteta himself was pleased with the composure of the on loan Flamengo man, suggesting he could start against West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

"I think he looked comfortable," he told the official Arsenal website.

"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.

“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."

  • Arsenal FC
  • Premier League
  • FA Cup
  • Mikel Arteta

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