Despite the doubts – Backup players like Rob Holding are crucial to Arsenal’s success

Some Say Rob Holding Can’t Be Trusted, But Hasn’t He Delivered What Was Asked of Him?

If there’s one thing that could stop Arsenal from winning the Premier League, as per former West Ham star Michael Dawson, it’s the fact that Rob Holding is not as good as William Saliba is whenever covering Arsenal’s central defence. Dawson had a pretty decent argument about why, with Rob Holding in defence, Arsenal are at risk of bottling the PL title race.

“The way they play and the way William Saliba covers the ground in a one-versus-one, the passage of play at times,” Dawson said on Soccer Saturday. “When I was playing, I never wanted to be exposed one-versus-one. I look at Rob Holding; he’s done a good job, but he’s not Saliba.

“Saliba is great in both boxes, and that’s a big concern for them and how long he’s going to be out.

“They’ve missed him in recent weeks. I think last week they were probably fortunate in the end, and I think it’s a good point.

“If they get him back, I think they will be stronger than they already are.

“I feel like we’re probably giving Rob Holding a little bit of a disservice here; you have a squad, and Saliba wasn’t one of the players we’d be talking about at the start of the season, but he is now.”

Many people, including Dawson, have doubts about Rob Holding, but let us give him credit where credit is due. The Englishman has done what he was intended to accomplish in the last few weeks. Comparing Saliba to Holding is simply unfair; we already know that Saliba is world-class.

Holding isn’t as good as the Frenchman, but he does an excellent job of covering for him. When Arsenal ultimately wins the league, it will be thanks to players like Holding, who stood up when needed and helped the team retain its momentum.

Sam P


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  1. Holding is a disaster nothing better than average its definitely a area where Arsenal need to strengthen should have at least 4 top quality cbs with any of them capable of doing a job so you wouldn’t miss anyone that’s injured holding doesn’t give you that security bet he’s gone at end of season!

  2. I didn’t think Holding had a good game at all ,was beaten for pace a few times and had some errors in him .

    1. I thought he did well in his previous games, but not in this one, I agree. Gabriel has to cover for him too much at times and he gets overloaded, I think .

  3. Holding is an accident waiting to happen and always has been. Had Arsenal listened to the fans, other managers, etc, over the last decade we wouldn’t be having the centre back problems we have now – and Holding would be playing for someone else. Centre back and goalkeeper are ‘the’ positions were you cannot make a mistake, because if you do it leads to a goal. Holding makes mistakes. When you think of how many problems Arsenal have had in that area while hes been at the club, it makes you wonder why hes still there? If you can’t get first team football when the regular centre halves are leaking goals like a sieve with ten inch holes, you really, really aren’t up to it. Yes, he’s done okay against modest opponents, but ask yourself this question; Holding to play against Haaland? If you answer yes, seek help..

    1. West ham were modest opponents and Holding did no worse than a few others. Funnily enough, in the cup match, i thought first half Holding bullied Haarland and i think Haarland looked bemused and didn’t perform. And not many mentioning the soft hand of Ramsdale, i think he should have done better for the goal. We like last season are not handling the pressure and creating our own pressure. I did have doubts that the way we play football is not a robust enough style to cope with pressure. So far, its going the way i thought. Sqeaky bum time and ours is squealing.

      1. Never said he didn’t. However, as above, our defence has been an issue going as far back as 2006-07, and a major problem over the last decade. Yet Holding has ever held down a regular place. This is because he ‘is’ an accident waiting to happen. Doing okay against West Ham is hardly a glowing recommendation. As for Haaland, on current form he’d eat Holding alive. The post started on the premise that Holding is good enough to fill in, he isn’t.

    2. Well, Holding was signed by Mr. Wenger. so he must have been that good to be signed by the greatest manager in the universes. Needs to be binned at the earliest and will be binned as Mikel prepares for the next campaign with UCL ( as we might win either the EPL or “the Top Two Trophee”)

  4. When your midfield becomes dysfunctional the centre backs are going to be under all sorts of pressure. Lost ball in the middle and here come the opposition again and again. Our best midfielder Zivchenko was badly missed today. Simple as that.

    1. But last week Zinchenko was also part of the problem, why we crumbled. He never made a difference last week, i dont get what you are saying. He would have got blown to bits by Bowen. In fact he wouldn’t have been in position to stop him. Zinchenko was not the solution to our problems today, he proved that last week.

  5. What I’m saying is that Zivchenko, until better options are found should be in the the middle if fit, Tierney at fullback and Xhaka out. Why do Arsenal need him,? What was his contribution yesterday and at Anfield? Neither an attacker or ball winner, he suddenly becomes a hero with a couple of good passes and the odd goal every so often.

  6. The thing about Holding is that the problems he creates are not obvious so you can very easily say it’s not his fault. Asides the lack of pace he lacks composure. A lot of balls that Saliba will control with his chest and calmly pass to the midfielders Holding will nod to throw in or corner giving opponents hope and building pressure then when we finally concede people will say it’s not his fault.

    But is it only me? I have watched the replay of West Ham penalty severally and it was a clear dive, how’s nobody talking about it. Gabriel clearly stopped himself from making the challenge. You can say I’m biased because it’s Arsenal but honestly I’m usually fair

  7. Can’t keep making up feeble excuses all the time. It just don’t cut the pork chop. The buck stops with the manager fair and square. Manchester United didn’t bottle it up at the City Ground this morning with all their injury woes. I really don’t think Mikel Arteta has the mentality or the know how in picking up these players for the final run in. I’ve been a huge supporter of his since day one of his appointment. He’s been on his L Plates and training wheels long enough. He has not learnt from his past mistakes. You can’t keep making up excuses for him. Watching that match last night/early this morning was a hard watch. That Arsenal team of 1989 was a very well organised and disciplined team. This team of 2023 are nothing short of spoilt brats. And I hope they cop it left right and centre on social media. I hold no sympathy whatsoever for them. I hope they have nightmares. They are paid handsomely to kick a football around and live a privileged life. And what do these little cowards do????,,,, They do what they do best,,,, they bottle up their second consecutive match by squandering a 2-0 lead and drawing 2-2. You wait and see,,,, the next match they are 2-0 up, panic stations will set in. You could give this team a 3-0 head start against Manchester City, and City will reel them in like fish. 3-1, 3-2, 3-3,,, wham bam thank you mam 4-3. And that will be because of Mikel Arteta’s mentality. He’ll be setting up loud speakers at the training grounds tomorrow blasting out Oasis’s bloody well WONDERWALL, and probably round it off with Sweet Caroline. If the Kronkes have any ounce of ambition, they should be looking towards someone like Carlo Ancelotti, someone with some pedigree. Because I don’t think Mikel Arteta will be able to handle the pressures of Champions League football competition. He won’t know how to rotate players. I think the experiment is up. This is The Arsenal,, not some Guinea Pig in a scientific laboratory. Am I on the warpath,,, you betcha I am. Enough is enough

  8. The greatest mistake Arteta is making or going to make is getting caught in the bubble and thinking the team only need backups and not upgrades. Many of this players still don’t have what is required mentally to win matches under immense pressure. We need mentally strong players in the middle of the pack. Tricks and flicks can only get you this far. There are games you need to battle to win. At the end of this season, questions will be ask of our recruitment in the last 2 years and the manager’s tactical flexibility and adaptability to different matches and players available to him.

  9. Are we starting to bottle it?
    Can’t believe in our last 2 games we went 2-0 up and let the other teams peg us back to 2-2.

    We go through these little falls offs. When we lose or draw one game we then go on to drop more points in the next game or 2.

    1. It seemed to me that in both games, when it was going well it was great.

      It took 2 incidents to change the dynamic – the Xhaka tussle and the penalty yesterday. I am not apportioning blame but just making an observation.

      The crowd got fired up and this fired up our opponents and our team inexplicably lost its nerve. It’s tiring having to chase the ball out of possession and exhilarating running with it when in possession as West Ham showed. They had just returned from a European fixture unlike us and should have faded.

      I thought that West Ham wanting the win more than us was incorrect as both teams had very good reasons to need to win. Arteta has a job on his hands to revive their mentality.

      1. Even more annoying (as leeds fans are doubtless grumbling) is we allowed a poor liverpool side, on the back of two reverses, and their media mates to turn them back into ‘world beaters’. We cannot be doing this. We played poorly at Old cheathole earlier in the season and allowed them to bounce back from a dismal start. We allowed an unsettled City side to boost their confidence at the Emirates. You cannot be giving your rivals a leg up, in particular the NW reds as the media bandwagon turns a one off into a ‘triumphant’ run. We have enough issues of our own without setting up our rivals for this season and next.

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