Arsenal defender Pablo Mari has named Liverpool trio Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah as the toughest front three he’s ever come up against.
The Reds’ attacking trident have regularly put Arsenal to the sword in recent seasons and a double from Salah helped Jurgen Klopp’s men cruise to a 3-1 win over the Gunners back in August.
Mari only joined Arsenal in a loan deal from Brazilian outfit Flamengo during the January transfer window but his claim comes on the back of facing the Merseysiders in the FIFA Club World Cup earlier this season.
The Spanish ace was in the starting line-up as Flamengo took on Liverpool in the final and held the Reds to a 0-0 stalemate after 90 minutes to force extra-time.
Firmino had also scored the winning goal in Liverpool’s semi-final win over Monterrey.
Mari, who had managed just two appearances for Arsenal before the season was halted for the Coronavirus pandemic, recalled the game during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.
Mari said: “I think this moment was the three strikers of Liverpool. Salah, Mane and Firmino. It’s because of speed, intelligence and their characters. I think these things are most important and make them top players.
“We (Flamengo) think we played a really good game there and we know Liverpool in that moment was maybe the best club in the world.
“But we had one thing that we thought we could beat them with and that was our mentality. We had nothing to lose and everything to win so we could put this mentality in the pitch to try and win against them.”
Mari played a big part in keeping Liverpool at bay before, nine minutes into extra-time, Jordan Henderson’s through ball picked out Mane, who twisted and played in Firmino to deliver the killer blow.
“It was proved that in one action you can lose the game,” said the 26-year-old. “But I thought we were fighting really well against them.
“Of course it was a really difficult to play against the front three because you know they are fast, they are strong and they know every player and what to do and they have really good quality.”
Pablo Mari on Arsenal improvements
While his Arsenal career has yet to get going, Mari feels the experience of facing Liverpool can help him impress new boss and fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta.
Mari, who was previously on Manchester City’s books although didn’t play for them, said: “I felt like I improved a lot in six months there playing in Flamengo so that I can play against Liverpool and these three players.
“My focus when I arrived in Flamengo was that we knew we would play against a club like Liverpool in this final and that if we improved a lot we could beat them.”