‘Very solid’: Martin Keown opens up about new Arsenal signing

Martin Keown discusses Pablo Mari's debut for Arsenal against Portsmouth in the FA Cup

Martin Keown
Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown (Photo: BT Sport)

Martin Keown has praised Pablo Mari for the way he performed during his Arsenal debut against Portsmouth on Monday night.

The defender is currently settling into life at The Emirates after having signed for the Gunners on a six-month loan deal from Brazilian side Flamengo in the January transfer window.

Mari played the full 90 minutes as he helped Arsenal to keep a clean sheet as they booked their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals with a victory at Fratton Park.

The 26-year-old centre-half will now be hoping to push on in the coming weeks and convince Mikel Arteta that he is worthy of a permanent switch to The Emirates at the end of the season.

Former Arsenal defender Keown was impressed by what he saw from Mari on Monday night and he now wants to see the centre-half be given more playing time by Arteta.

Speaking in an interview with Goal, Keown said of Mari’s performance at Portsmouth: “He didn’t have a lot to do apart from his distribution. But he won everything when necessary.

“You could see that he was a little bit short of fitness and that they are building him up. He looks to have the basis of a good player there.

“There were important first steps on Monday night, even though he wasn’t tested that much because in the second half Arsenal completely dominated possession – it was a bit of a football lesson for Portsmouth.

“I think he looked very solid, he has the height in inches. You look at the stature of the player and he won everything in the air.

“He wasn’t rapid, but was quick enough to deal with all the situations. We were playing against a League One side who had a lone striker so he and David Luiz were able to boss him between the two of them.

“I think it was important that he had Luiz alongside him to talk him through the game. Now we have to give him time, he has to be given more opportunities.”

Arsenal – who are currently eight points adrift of the top four – will travel to Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The Gunners are in Premier League action on Saturday afternoon when they take on West Ham United in front of their home fans.

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