Pablo Mari cost Arsenal £1m during Gunners defeat to Man City

Pablo Mari claims Mikel Arteta is up there with Pep Guardiola as one of the best coaches in the world.

Tenth-placed Arsenal currently sit 25 points behind Guardiola’s rampant league leaders Manchester City, who beat them 1-0 on Sunday.

But defender Mari insists Gunners boss Arteta deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as his fellow Spaniard, who is widely regarded as an all-time great.

Speaking after Sunday’s narrow loss, Mari said: “I think on the pitch we probably had the two best coaches in the world, or two of the best ones.

“I think they had a battle on the pitch. We tried to do our best, we planned really well ahead of the game.

“They had real issues when they wanted to go to the final third, they didn't have too many shots on target, so our plan was good. But at the end, we lost the game.

“We have to learn, we have to improve, we have to be ready from the beginning of the game and we weren't. At the end, we lost the game.

“But everybody on the pitch gave everything. I'm really proud of the team because of the way we played.”

Arsenal were undone by a header from Raheem Sterling two minutes into the game but could not find an equaliser despite preventing any more City goals.

Mari started his first Premier League game since January 2 against City – triggering the payment of another £863,000 instalment of his transfer fee.

Arsenal made Mari’s loan from Flamengo permanent last summer for a fee rising to around £7m, paid in instalments for every ten games he plays.

The 27-year-old, who has just returned from a calf injury, said: “I'm really happy. I've always said that I'm really proud to be here and happy.

“Whenever I play I try to give everything to my team to help my team-mates, to help them and push hard, to help the coach to win games, to help the club.

“I give everything for the club so at the end, I'm really happy when I play. Of course I'm really disappointed when I don't win but I'm happy to come back again.”

Arsenal now turn their attention to Thursday’s Europa League clash with Benfica, who earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Mari said: “We have objectives for the end of the season but it is far away, we have games in front of us and we have to go game by game.

“We are not looking too far, we have to focus on the game on Thursday. We have to learn about what we did and focus on that next game.”

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