On-loan Arsenal defender Pablo Mari couldn’t have asked for a better Udinese debut, but his new team followed that up with a poor defeat.

UDINE, ITALY: Pablo Mari of Udinese Calcio competes for the ball with Antonio Sanabria of Torino FC during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and Torino FC at Dacia Arena on February 06, 2022. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images)
UDINE, ITALY: Pablo Mari of Udinese Calcio competes for the ball with Antonio Sanabria of Torino FC during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and Torino FC at Dacia Arena on February 06, 2022. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images)

Just last week, we were covering positive reports of Pablo Mari’s debut, with one Italian outlet reporting that it was “a good first [game] for Pablo Mari, immediately a leader of the defence on his debut in Serie A”.

Mari had helped his loan side to a clean sheet and a 2-0 win on that occasion, seemingly re-entering the world of competitive football without any cobwebs.

But perhaps Mari’s total lack of match action from mid-September to February caught up with him in a poor performance against Hellas Verona at the weekend.

The hosts ran riot in a 4-0 win. Though Mari wasn’t solely to blame for any of the goals his team conceded, he arguably played as much of a role in the defensive disintegration as both of his centre-back partners.

The Udinese defence looked static and slow to react on multiple occasions, and Hellas Verona took full advantage.

UDINE, ITALY: Pablo Mari of Udinese Calcio in action during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and Torino FC at Dacia Arena on February 06, 2022. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
UDINE, ITALY: Pablo Mari of Udinese Calcio in action during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and Torino FC at Dacia Arena on February 06, 2022. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Udinese have been no strangers to defensive inconsistency this season.

On three separate occasions before Sunday, they followed up clean sheets by conceding four or more goals in their very next game. Sunday’s game was the fourth such instance.

Yet the latest result should serve as a reality check for Mari about the task he faces in Italy.

Udinese are just three points clear of the relegation zone, so they have work to do.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.