BBC pundit Danny Murphy believes that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta made a huge selection error when he preferred his compatriot Pablo Mari ahead of Gabriel Magalhaes against West Ham United on Sunday.
The Brazilian, signed last summer from Lille, has been our best defender this season. He has settled in to the Premier League really well, and his performances, apart from a shaky few games after he tested positive for the infamous virus, has been phenomenal.
Mari has been really good for us too. The 27-year-old, the games against Manchester City aside, is unbeaten in an Arsenal shirt, and his performances – especially after Boxing Day – have been phenomenal.
The former Flamengo man, sadly, was partly at fault for West Ham’s second goal. He, like most of his teammates, fell asleep and the Irons walked the ball in after a quick freekick.
Murphy has had a go at Arteta for starting Mari ahead of Gabriel on Sunday. He has claimed that the Spaniard is simply not as good as the former Lille man, which is a bit too harsh in our opinion.
He said on TalkSport: “He [Arteta] has to take some responsibility. Gabriel did as good a job on Kane as I’ve seen any centre-half do and he puts Mari back in. He’s not as good. I’m sorry, he’s not as good.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
That really is harsh.
Yes, Mari may not be as quick and powerful as Gabriel, but he is still a top-quality defender. The Spaniard has been outstanding for us in most games he has played, and a momentary lapse in concentration won’t change anything.
Mari, at just £3.6 million pre add-ons (Hashtag Rubro Negro), is one of the best bargains Arsenal have ever had, and the Spaniard deserves more chances at left centre-half in the coming weeks and months.
Gabriel will remain Arsenal’s first-choice and rightly so. However, Mari will constantly be pushing him and that is the best thing for the club as both players will be up for it when called upon.