Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has told the London Evening Standard that he hasn’t been fair on Pablo Mari by throwing him in at the deep end, so soon after he recovered from injury.
Mari was ruled out for much of the early part of the campaign, but on Boxing Day against Chelsea, Arteta had very little choice but to select him.
The Arsenal boss was reliant on the 27-year-old performing, despite a lack of match sharpness.
And Arteta has been really impressed by the way that Mari has excelled in Arsenal’s starting line-up over recent weeks, with the North London side’s form improving dramatically.
“We had to throw him in because we had some injuries, suspensions and probably it was not even fair for him because he has missed a lot of football in the last year,” Arteta said.
“But he is a leader. He is someone who trains really hard, he is really professional.
“He is a great communicator on the pitch and he gives you some security, some stability.
“He has done really well with Rob [Holding], he was really good again on Saturday with David [Luiz]. Three clean sheets in a row and he fully deserves his chance to play.”
Mari now seems to have nailed down his place in Arsenal’s starting line-up.
For all the praise Emile Smith Rowe has received, Mari’s return has also clearly been a boost to the Gunners, who have now won four games in a row.
Mari has also helped Arsenal keep clean sheets in their last three outings, with Gabriel facing a fight to earn his place back in the team now.
Arsenal are next in action on Thursday, when they will be looking to continue their good run of form with a victory over struggling Crystal Palace.