Gabriel Magalhaes’ unavailability was expected to be a massive blow for Arsenal. The Brazilian has been our best player this season having won the Player of the Month award three times in a row.
The former Lille man’s absence made way for Pablo Mari and the Spaniard has been exceptional. He started his first game in the Premier League this season against Chelsea on Saturday and apart from the penalty he conceded at the end, he was solid.
Mari started against Brighton last night and he was fantastic. The 27-year-old had 85 touches of the ball and completed 67 of his passes, boasting a very impressive 91% passing accuracy. He blocked three shots, made two clearances and won 100% of his ground duels. (SofaScore)
Is Mari the new Mertesacker?
He has formed a solid partnership with Rob Holding at the back now, and his performances have reminded some Arsenal fans of Per Mertesacker.
The big German had his critics at Arsenal because of his pace but nobody can deny the fact that he was a fantastic defender. He read the game brilliantly and what he lacked in speed, he made up with his positioning in the game.
Mari is very similar in that aspect. The Spaniard isn’t the fastest but the way he reads the game is brilliant. He is good in the air, excellent with the ball at his feet and can also find a man with a long pass when required. He is proving to be an excellent player, but Arsenal fans weren’t convinced initially.
Mari initially came in on loan from Brazilian side Flamengo and supporters didn’t know a lot about him. He suffered a season-ending injury after just three games last term, but Edu and Arteta decided to sign him anyway for what was reported as £14 million.
It later came to light that Arsenal paid nothing near that amount. Hashtag Rubro Negro claimed that Flamengo only received £3.6 million for Mari. That is as good a bargain as we could possibly get and Edu deserves a ton of credit.
Arsenal fans are finally noticing how good Mari really is.