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Could the Return of Pablo Mari Help to Shore up the Arsenal Defence?

Pablo Mari, Udinese, Arsenal

Arsenal aren’t famed for their defensive solidity, and the club have spent the last decade chopping and changing their back four in a bid to find the perfect rock-solid combination. With the Gunners continuing to leak goals this season, the hopes of many Arsenal supporters now lie with Spanish defender Pablo Mari, who is due to return from injury later this month.

Having paid £14million to secure his services this summer, expectations are running high for the former Flamengo centre-back. Pablo Mari will be hoping to be given the opportunity to impress in the coming months after he was included in Mikel Arteta’s 25-man Premier League squad, ahead of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis.

Pablo Mari
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The North London club have made a decent start to the 20/21 campaign, winning three of their opening six fixtures, although their only clean sheet came against goal-shy Fulham. David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes have started the majority of those games, and although the pair have done very little wrong, many supporters remain unconvinced by the Brazilian duo.

Rob Holding has also featured this year, although the former Bolton man now looks set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury during the warm-up session ahead of his team’s Premier League fixture against Manchester City. With Sokratis seemingly heading for the exit, this could pave the way for the former Flamengo defender to stake a claim for a place in the match-day squad.

Although Mari’s Premier League experience is extremely limited, he looked fairly assured against West Ham at the beginning of March and barely put a foot wrong throughout the 90 minutes. However, he had the heroics of Bernd Leno to thank for keeping the Hammers off the score-sheet.

Pablo Mari looked confident and assertive against Portsmouth in the EFL Cup just a few days earlier. However, he lasted just 24 minutes against Manchester City in mid-June, before sustaining a foot injury which required him to visit a specialist back in his homeland.

Pablo Mari arrived at the Emirates with a big reputation, having helped Flamengo to a historic Copa Libertadores victory. He became the first Spaniard to triumph in the iconic competition. It capped off a superb season for the Rio de Janeiro-based club, who also wrapped up their first Brazilian Serie A title in almost a decade.

Although he isn’t the quickest, his instinctive sense of positioning, aerial prowess, and reading of the game are all likely to serve him well in the Premier League. His unassuming and unfussy performances earned him plenty of plaudits in the Brazilian capital, and Arsenal fans will be hoping that he can bring a much-needed air of calm to the proceedings.

The left-footed centre-back was a popular figure in South America and having clinched two trophies in just 27 appearances at Estadio de Gavea, Arsenal supporters will certainly be hoping that he can help the club add more silverware to their trophy cabinet this season. However, a top-four finish is likely to be the main target for Arsenal and they are 7/4 in the latest Premier League betting odds to secure a Champions League spot for the first time since 2015.

The defender originally targeted a September return, although, as of October 26th, he is yet to be reintroduced to the first-team squad. Fans are looking forward to seeing more of the Spaniard over the coming months, and with a hectic festive schedule on the horizon, he should get plenty of opportunities to win over the Gunners faithful this year and give Arteta’s side some much-needed defensive solidity.

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Amiya Saha
Avid follower of Manchester United FC. Have blind faith on the Red Devils at any point. Waiting to see Manchester United bring back the Ferguson era. Has a dream to watch Manchester United play at Old Trafford live.

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