Arsenal: Arteta hails youngsters as they ease through
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a huge dilemma on his hands – all because of the form of Pablo Mari. Arsenal committed to spend up to £27million on Gabriel Magalhaes last summer but the Brazilian’s place in the starting XI may now not be a guarantee.
The likes of Manchester United were interested in signing Gabriel before he put pen to paper on a deal at the Emirates.
He had a strong start to life under Arteta, with his best performance arguably coming in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford last November.
Some Arsenal fans and ex-players thought the club had finally brought in a long-term solution at the back.
Martin Keown still describes Gabriel as the best defender in Arteta’s squad.
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However, Arteta’s decision to drop him for the biggest game of the season on Thursday could be a hint that he prefers Spanish compatriot Mari instead.
Gabriel and Mari are left-footed and Arteta has made it clear he does not want to play both at the same time – the pair are yet to play a single minute of action together.
So it is a straight battle between the two for one starting spot.
And Mari’s record in an Arsenal shirt proves exactly why he was picked for the vital Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.
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Mari has made 15 appearances for the Gunners since his arrival from Flamengo in January 2020.
Arsenal have won 11 of those matches, drawing two and losing just two.
Both losses came against Manchester City, with Mari being substituted at 0-0 in one of the defeats with the ankle injury which kept him out of action for six months.
Arsenal have kept seven clean sheets in the matches Mari has played, conceding just 10 goals with him on the pitch.
They have also been more prolific at the other end, scoring 36 times in the 15 matches.
And if you compare Mari’s record to Gabriel, the difference is staggering.
In Gabriel’s 26 appearances, Arsenal have won just nine matches, drawing five and losing 12.
It must be noted that Gabriel has played a higher percentage of matches in the Premier League than Mari.
But the statistics do not prove good viewing for the former Lille man.
Arsenal have kept just four clean sheets in Gabirel’s 26 outings, three fewer than Mari has despite playing 11 more matches.
The Gunners have conceded 34 goals, at an average of 1.3 goals per game, with Gabriel. Arsenal concede just 0.66 goals per game with Mari on the pitch.
Arteta’s side have scored 28 goals at an average of just 1.07 goals per game with Gabriel, compared to 2.4 goals per game with Mari.
Arsenal’s win percentage with Gabriel is just 34.6 per cent, compared to Mari’s 73.6 per cent – more than double.
The loss percentage is even more startling, with Arsenal losing 46.15 per cent of games with Gabriel compared to just 13.33 per cent with Mari.
Mari blows Gabriel out of the water with every single statistic.
Conceding a penalty against Chelsea side, Mari has barely put a foot wrong since joining the club.
And Arteta is left having a decision to make over the future of last summer’s expensive recruit.
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