Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta raves over ‘leader’ who is proving to be unexpected Gunners hero
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Pablo Mari for his impact after returning from injury.
The Spaniard missed almost six months of action, after picking up a serious ankle injury in the Gunners’ first game back following ‘Project Restart’.
That ended his season last time around, with him facing a similarly frustrating start to this one.
But in the absence of Gabriel, Mari has started the last four Arsenal games, as they have looked to turn their season around.
Arteta’s side have conceded just once in their last four games, putting together a run of form that has moved them away from the bottom three in the table.
Mari partnered David Luiz at the heart of Arsenal’s defence for the 2-0 FA Cup win over Newcastle and Arteta has hailed his positive attitude after coming back into the team.
"We had to throw him in because we had some injuries and suspensions, it probably wasn’t really fair for him because he’s missed a lot of football in the last year," Arteta said after the FA Cup win.
"But he’s a leader, he’s someone that trains really hard, he’s a professional, a great communicator on the pitch and he gives you some security and stability.
"I think he’s done really well with Rob [Holding], he was really good again today with David [Luiz], three clean sheets in a row and he fully deserves the chance to play.
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"He was really positive when he wasn’t playing, when he was injured and when he is playing, he is the same person all the time, trying to help everybody.
"He’s really professional, really eager to improve to give his best all the time in any capacity and any role and I think he is getting rewarded by his attitude."
His defensive partner for Arsenal’s return to form has mostly been Rob Holding and Arteta revealed that the 25-year-old is close to signing a new deal at The Emirates – one that will tie him to the club until 2025.
“It’s something that we will announce as quick as we can. But it looks like it,” he confirmed.
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