What will Arsenal do with Rob Holding now?
Arsene Wenger surprised many by not only investing once, but twice in the defence this summer, with both Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi signing for the Gunners!
Earlier on in the summer transfer window, Arsenal got their hands on the highly rated English prospect Rob Holding, for a measly price of around £2.5 million. A buy from Bolton, it was always going to be a big step up from a relegated Championship side, however Holding has proven in his opening games that he certainly has a lot of talent to show.
Despite adding strength to the defence, Wenger felt it was necessary to add another defender to the ranks at Arsenal, especially after injures to centre backs Gabriel and Per Mertesacker. Both players picked up injures during pre-season that are set to keep them out for months and so Le Prof felt necessary to also add Shkodran Mustafi to his earlier purchase.
But now that the well established top quality centre back Shkodran Mustafi has joined, where does that leave young Rob Holding? In my opinion Holding is unlucky to lose his place after the start to the season he has had. He didn’t look the sharpest in the Liverpool game playing alongside Calum Chambers, however as Wenger seems to have suggested, it is Chambers that needs to work on dramatically improving his game, rather than Holding. When the Englishman is paired with Laurent Koscielny, Holding looks calm and confident with what faces him. Mustafi however has more experience in the game and given the £35 million price tag, I think it’s safe to say the German international will certainly have a place in the starting XI at Arsenal.
For Holding this means he is likely to drop to the bench, at least until Gabriel and Mertesacker return from injury. At the point of their respective returns, I think we may see Holding dropped down the pecking order even further, despite the strong start to his Arsenal career. It’s likely Holding will link up with the Arsenal Under 21’s and be used sparingly in the cup and for rotation. Personally however, even based on the first few games alone, I think I would prefer Holding over both Gabriel and Mertesacker now. For me, Gabriel still lacks the necessary communication and control. The Brazilian is a forceful defender and likes to get stuck in, but at times it can be clumsy and he can get himself into trouble unnecessarily. As for Mertesacker, I think his legs may slowly be losing touch with the physicality and pace of the Premier League. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if this was the German’s final season with the Gunners.
So what role will Holding be given now that Koscielny and Mustafi are almost certain to begin a strong partnership at the back?