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Pablo Mari: 10 Things to Know About Him

Pablo Mari is set to join Arsenal on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy

Pablo Mari was spotted by eagle eyed Arsenal fans and journalists when he was the airport in Brazil. I’m pretty certain that some Arsenal fans tracked him on the plane to London and probably videoed Edu Gaspar sleeping on his shoulder. The fans got a confirmation when Arsenal correspondent for Goal.com, Charles Watt, tweeted this.

Arsenal is on the spotlight in the wake of their defensive crisis with Calum Chambers injured, Sokratis and Rob Holding struggling with fitness, David Luiz currently suspended and Skhodran Mustafi synonymous with gaffes, mistakes and errors.

According to Sky Sports, Pablo Mari arrived in London yesterday for his medical as he looked set to be the Gunners first signing under Mikel Arteta. Arsenal and Flamengo have reached an agreement for loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the season. 

Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Pablo Mari.

Pablo Mari is a Commanding Center Back

The defender is a colossus at the heart of the Flamengo defense, averaging 2.9 clearances, one tackle, one interception per game. He is a reliable outlet at the back for the Brazilian outfit and his presence instilled fears in the faces of opposition forwards.

Pablo Mari is Left Footed

Like Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City, having a left footed center back playing alongside a right footed partner gives better balance to the defense. It’s not like there’s a problem having two left footers or two right footers pair with each other but in Arsenal’s case, Pablo Mari would forge a partnership with the experienced lads like Sokratis and David Luiz.

He has Won is Fair Share of Trophies

Last season was successful for Panlo Mari as he won the Campeonato Serie A and Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) with Flamengo. Pablo Mari was an ever present at the back for his side, forging a telepathic partnership with Rogerio Caio.

Familiar with the Premier League

You would be surprised to know that Pablo Mari’s performances in La Liga second division side, Gimnastic, earned him a transfer to Manchester City, but the English giants loaned him to Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo de la Coruna to gain experience before he was transferred to Flamengo.

Pablo Mari is a Ball Playing Defender

Like David Luiz, Pablo Mari is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. Last season, he averaged 3.7 long balls per game, 0.2 key passes and had a passing accuracy of 87.8%. This essentially means that we can build from the back with Pablo Mari just like what we have been doing with David Luiz.

He is a BFG

At 6′ 3″, Pablo Mari has an intimidating frame, which will come in handy against opposition forwards in the Premier League. That height will also be useful from attacking set pieces.

Pablo Mari is Adept in Keeping a High Line

In his time at Flamengo, Pablo Mari and his defensive partner, Rogerio Caio, kept a high line and became accustomed to playing that way. However, they transitioned to playing deep as well, like their performance in the Copa Libertadores finals against Argentine juggernauts, River Plate.

He has had some European Football Experience

Mallorca, Gimnastic, NAC Breda, Girona and Deportivo – these are clubs that Pablo Mari has played for an remained consistent.

His Performances Earned Him a Place in the Brazilian Serie A Team of the Year

His performances were instrumental to his team as they won the national league in Brazil. This earned him a place in the Team of the Year,

Pablo Mari is the Antonym for Skhodran Mustafi

Pablo Mari does not dive into tackles like our brain dead German, as he prefer to read the game and calculate well before making an interception.

Here’s something to wet your appetite on this player

Sayonara.

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Ceballos: Thoughts on his Disappointing Loan Spell

Ceballos

Dani Ceballos arrived on loan from Real Madrid this summer and it came with some good buzz and fanfare. Arsenal fans were aware of his technical abilities and saw him excel in his national colors in the the Under-21s European Championships, and he looked like a decent replacement for Aaron Ramsey. The fans will always love Rambo for all he did for the club in his distinguished years of service, and in Ceballos, he offered the fans a chance to get a glimpse of his ability while donning the favored Number 8 jersey.

Ceballos had a decent debut on the opening fixture against Newcastle, showing off his silky passing skills and technical ability on the ball. However, his home debut against Burnley, which turned out to be his finest performance in Arsenal colors, was exemplary, as he covered every blade of grass for his new side, while creating two assists to his teammates as the Gunners ran out as 2-1 winners. Arsenal fans expected more from Ceballos but for some reason, Unai Emery did not deem it fit to start with the Spaniard, preferring his favored son, Matteo Guendouzi, alongside the then club captain, Granit Xhaka, in central midfield. 

Ceballos struggled to gain any consistent form and had a few fitness issues but he managed to put the icing on the cake when Arsenal thumped Standard Liege in the Europa League group stage fixture. After a couple of international fixtures with Spain, Ceballos got a runout on the side playing all 90 minutes in the disappointing draws with Crystal Palace and Wolves, before suffering a hamstring injury in the Europa League game against Victoria Guimaraes in early November. This turned out to be Ceballos’ last appearance for the club, before he gained full fitness in late December 2019.

Early in the month, I published an article on the players with expiring contracts, providing feedback on whether the club should sell, renew or release. Here was the final take on Ceballos,

We still have five months left in the campaign and the fans expect him to contribute to the cause but he has been an underwhelming signing thus far.

Which is why its surprising with the Metro reporting that Ceballos requested for his loan to be cut short, in his bid to find where he will play competitive football with Euro 2020 in sight. This is compounded with the cryptic Instagram message he sent to Hector Bellerin, stating how he would miss his left-footed volley against Chelsea and he wishes him the best. 

Since Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in late December 2019, Ceballos has not played under his compatriot but with Arsenal still in the Europa League and FA Cup, the expectation is there for the midfield maestro to get a couple of games to contribute to the side. So the idea of him trying to leave, especially when Arteta confirmed that there will be no new signings in January (yes, we are stuck with Mustafi) will make the team lightweight in the middle. We know Joe Willock and Guendouzi can deputize for the starting duo of Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, but Mesut Ozil needs some cover as well. In this scenario, Willock can push up to feature as the #10 while Ceballos can play alongside Guendouzi, as confirmed by Arteta himself,

“I like him (Ceballos) more when he’s close to the box rather than coming deep to receive the ball.  Defensively he can play in a two, rather than as a number 10. I don’t really see him as an isolated number 10 playing with two holding midfielder.

“He’s a very creative player, one who can cause problems in the final third, he always wants the ball, he had big personality to play so I like him.”

The fact that he has not featured as much as he would have hoped must have taken its toll on his decision making, but Arsenal as a club is obligated to stick with him till the end of the season. We will monitor the situation closely to see how both parties react as we edge closer to the end of the transfer window, so we might expect some decisions from the Arsenal hierarchy in the coming days.

Ceballos has had a disappointing loan spell from a personal perspective, but it doesn’t need to have a disappointing ending.

Sayonara

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Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: 10-Man Gunners Salvage Draw at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea Arsenal

Martinelli breezing past Kante

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal

Goal Scorers: Chelsea (Jorginho 28′ pen, Azpilicueta 84′), Arsenal (Martinelli 64′, Bellerin 87′)

Arsenal XI (Subs) (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, D. Luiz, Mustafi, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Martinelli, Ozil, Pepe; Lacazette

With the games coming thick and fast, there was no time to sulk over the draw against Sheffield United last weekend, as the Gunners arrived at Stamford Bridge, 10 points behind the inconsistent Chelsea. Both teams were in a poor vein of form and someone joked that it was the kind of game that both of them could actually lose.

There was some concern around the inclusion of Shkodran Mustafi in the starting lineup for the second league match in a row, because with Mustafi, you would always expect a calamity as he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and we got just that when the German defender gifted the ball to Tammy Abraham, putting his team on the lurch. David Luiz, that was jeered by the home crowd all game long, tried to cover his defense partner’s mess but a late tackle on the Chelsea forward that earned him his marching orders.

Jorginho stepped up and dispatched the penalty aplomb. 

As you’d expect from a team with a man down, Arsenal was on the back foot with Chelsea on the ascendancy but it’s worth noting that Granit Xhaka dropped deep as an auxiliary center back and became a colossus in defense. Against the run of play, Arsenal grabbed the equalizer when Gabriel Martinelli latched onto Mustafi’s headed clearance from a corner kick, made a 67-yard dash that coincided with a hilarious slip from N’Golo Kante before coming clean on goal and side footing the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

The game was delicately poised with all three points there for the taking, Chelsea must have thought that they had done enough for a victory when Cesar Azpilicueta guided the ball home from point blank range with all the Arsenal defenders ball watching, but Hector Bellerin salvaged a point for the away side when he showed great determination to swing a hopeful left footed effort that somehow found its way past Kepa. The away team didn’t care about the nature of the goal, but snapping a draw from the jaws of defeat when you’re 10 men down is very commendable.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, spoke about the spirit and commitment from his team with their backs against the wall. Equalizing twice in an away ground with a deficit is no mean feat, and I am proud of the lads for the performance they put up.

All focus will be moved to the Bournemouth game in the FA Cup, as the Gunners will feature without their most improved defender, David Luiz, following his red card. No thanks to Mustafi.

Sayonara

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