Arsenal defender Pablo Mari made his long-awaited return from injury with a 45-minute showing for the Gunners Under-23s on Friday night.
The 27-year-old, who joined Arsenal permanently in June from Brazilian club Flamengo, sustained an ankle ligament sprain against Manchester City the same month.
Mari duly underwent surgery to fix the problem and has undergone rehabilitation, returning to training earlier this month.
According to Football London, Arsenal had set themselves the aim of getting him back into training once the latest international break was over.
While last week’s Premier League meeting with Leeds and the Europa League trip to Molde this week came too soon for Mari, he made Steve Bould’s starting line-up for Friday night’s game against Derby U23s.
The Spaniard featured alongside Calum Chambers, William Saliba and Ryan Alebiosu at the back, and played the first half before being replaced by 16-year-old Brooke Norton-Cuffy in a game which Arsenal won 3-1.
Admittedly, Mari should have done better for Derby’s goal, as a mix-up between him and goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo – the latter hesitated in dealing with a cross, while the former was poorly positioned and didn’t head away – led to Jordan Brown netting from close range.
However, a mistake in a player’s first game back after injury isn’t something to overly worry about – as he gets more minutes under his belt he’ll become more match-sharp and tuned in.
Besides that error, he did fairly well, and some Arsenal fans were pleased with his display:
Mari looked pretty good, obviously not the hardest test.
— AFC_Partey (@Partey_AFC) November 27, 2020
Should be be first choice back up lcb
— Bubbles (@CalebSt67612829) November 27, 2020
Some of the creative and attacking play from Arsenal was of a very high standard – likes of Cottrell, Azeez, Taylor-Hart, Cirjan and Moller were very good.
Saliba and Chambers largely composed. Mari should have done better for the goal. Akinola grew into the game.
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) November 27, 2020
Watching the U23’s. Mari and Saliba look too good for this level. Our LB is very shaky. Akinola hasn’t been that good this game. Cottrell very lively. Moller excellent keeping the ball. Azeez good. Cirjan average. Mix up between keeper and Mari led to the goal
— MartinelliStan (@ArsenalStan35) November 27, 2020
Arsenal bossing the game now. Building from the back with Mari (LCB) and Saliba (RCB) both playing good passes through the lines and Saliba carrying it forward. Cottrell very bright in midfield too.
— PB (@OliPriceBates) November 27, 2020
Pablo Mari and William Saliba could be an interesting partnership in the future
— Alex🍋 (@ftblAIex) November 27, 2020