Pablo Mari was playing at the famous Maracana Stadium for Flamengo just a few months ago.

When he was convinced to ditch the Brazilian club to take his Premier League chance with Arsenal, appearing at Boreham Wood's Meadow Park was probably not what he had in mind.

But the Spanish defender will no doubt be relieved to get his Arsenal career up and running after playing 45 minutes in their Under-23s clash with Chelsea in Premier League 2.

Mari, signed on an initial six-month loan for a fee of around £4million in January, was partnered by Rob Holding in an experienced central defence against their local rivals as he donned Arsenal colours for the first time.

Pablo Mari appeared for Arsenal Under-23s against Chelsea in Borehamwood

Despite featuring two players looking to work their way into Mikel Arteta's first-team plans starting in defence, the Gunners were condemned to a 2-1 defeat as Mari's career got off to a losing start.

They took an early lead as Folarin Balogun curled in an opener after 16 minutes, but Armando Broja headed in an equaliser from the near post just after the half hour mark.

Mari put in a strong showing but the Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat

Highly-rated midfielder Billy Gilmour then struck on the stroke of half-time, at which stage Mari and Holding were withdrawn before a goalless second half.

Although on the losing side, Mari made a good early impression and looked calm in possession as he aims to work his way into the first-team.

Mari is now hoping to work his way into Mikel Arteta's first team plans

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Speaking during the winter break, Arteta suggested he will be gradually eased into the side whilst the club confirmed in an injury update last week that he is in full training and looking to be available to make his debut away at Olympiacos this Thursday in the Europe League.

Arteta said: "He is a new player and I am sure he is very excited and wants to prove everything in three days, so we have to manage him wisely."