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Pablo Mari is the first Arsenal centre-back to keep a clean sheet on his debut since Per Mertesacker, drawing another similarity between the two.
As Tom Ede tweeted on Saturday, no Arsenal centre-back has kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut in the last nine years. The last defender to do so before Pablo Mari was Per Mertesacker in 2011, against Swansea City.
A certain Spanish midfielder by the name of Mikel Arteta also made his debut that day.
Arsenal have got through a number of centre-backs since then, with Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos and David Luiz among the signings in recent years at the back. None kept a PL debut clean sheet though.
It’s just another similarity between Mari and Mertesacker. The two were already drawing comparisons before this, due to their size and strength in the air.
They’re also both not the quickest, though Mari is both quicker and a bit shorter than Per. Instead, they rely on timing their blocks, tackles and interceptions. Making blocks is one of Mari’s specialities, and he stopped three shots on his FA Cup debut.
Of course, the new signing has a long way to go to match the current head of the academy. He made a big mistake against West Ham, and was lucky not to see it punished. He grew into the game and had a big positive impact in the second half though.
Next up is a major test against Manchester City. A seemingly impossible clean sheet in that game would be more than welcome.