Pablo Mari is feeling ‘great’ after his debut appearance for Arsenal, playing for the u23s against Chelsea on Monday.

Pablo Mari with Arsenal (Photo via Twitter / PabloMV5)
Pablo Mari with Arsenal (Photo via Twitter / PabloMV5)

Arsenal decided to give Pablo Mari some debut minutes with the u23s on Monday, along with fellow centre-back Rob Holding. The two are both trying to get match sharp and force their way into Mikel Arteta’s team, as we move into the business end of the season.

Mari doesn’t have an injury problem, but he was on holiday when Arsenal signed him, due to the format of the Brazilian season. As a result, he’s essentially going through a pre-season. The winter break certainly helped with that.

So the Spaniard started against Chelsea u23s, and he had a decent debut. The defender caught the eye with his aerial presence and impressive distribution, though the makeshift defence wasn’t entirely solid.

Arsenal u23s took the lead through Folarin Balogun, and they had a couple of chances to double it. Balogun had about five chances throughout the match, forcing some great saves from the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Unfortunately, they failed to score, and they were caught out on a corner by a few players not doing their job at the near post. Hard to blame Mari for that though, as he was in the centre of the box at the time.

The defender was a little more culpable as Chelsea scored their second though. He couldn’t quite reach a cross and Karl Hein saved the resulting deflected header fantastically. Billy Gilmour got to the rebound first, and this time Hein didn’t do so well, spilling it in.

Arsenal replaced Mari and Holding at half time, later confirming that was always the plan. The centre-back posted a message to his fans on Twitter about the debut: