Have Arsenal got another John Stones in Holding?

When Arsenal completed the transfer of the young central defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers at the end of July, the response from the Arsenal fans was underwhelming to say the least. The tiny, compared to most Premier League transfers, price that we paid combined with him coming from a club that had just finished rock bottom of the Championship did not help and not many of us knew much, if anything, about him.

Having said that, Arsene Wenger was clearly impressed by what he had seen and our scouts have uncovered some real gems in the past, but we still did not expect to see much of him until the Arsenal injury curse hit Per Mertesacker and Gabriel and left the boss little choice.

That seems to have been the ideal chance for the young defender and he has grabbed it to such an extent that he is now in front of Calum Chambers in the pecking order, having been chosen to partner Laurent Koscielny when the France international returned to face Leicester City in our second Premier League game of the season last weekend.

That pairing managed to keep the likes of Vardy and Mahrez at bay and the senior Gunner was suitably impressed, as he explained in an Arsenal.com report this week. From the way Koscielny spoke about his new colleague, I get the idea that he could have a very bright future ahead of him and his attributes sound very similar to a certain John Stones, who this summer became the second most expensive defender in the world after David Luiz.

Koscielny said, “I think he has the quality to play for Arsenal. If he signed for us it is because he has all the qualities of a defender to play for Arsenal. He is young, but he is at the age where you need the experience and you need to play and focus on your job.

“I think Rob did well [against Leicester]. He is still young but you can see during the game he was focused on his job and technically he is good with the ball and defensively he is strong.

“It was easy for me to play with him on the pitch. For centre backs it is very important to communicate well and we did. It was good for his first game.

“He wants to give all of himself on the pitch but sometimes you need to be calmer, be focused on you position and on the pitch with your team-mates. Maybe I can give him this experience during the season.”

Don’t forget that Stones was himself plucked as an unknown by Everton from Championship club Barnsley at about the same age and for about the same money. Do you think Arsenal could have another Stones on our hands?



  1. I think Holding is way better than Stones. May be not experience wise but the kid is playing like he has played in the league before. He is wise and strong.

    Stones is also wise but his strength is a bit low. Holding is a bit of Terry and Pique. The guy can pass very well. I think he will be a back up to the boss this season. Or may even retain his position if Mustafi replaces Moreal . We all no what Wenger can do right?

  2. chambers was also putting strong performances when he first arrived here until Wenger decided to condemn him to the bench after just one off day.
    I think we need to ensure he performs like this for the next 2 to 3 seasons before we can make any sure conclusions

    1. Once I saw Rob kicked the ball I knew he was quite good and beside he only get better. Chambers is equally good but I think Rob has a better concentration at moment.
      I look forward to seeing Rob and Chambers champion Arsenals defence in the near future.

    1. Doubt it, Mert and Kos wont be around too much longer. I love that we now have depth in our defence. Remember mert is a good player, not among the very best but he’s in the next group. All the experience and a German WC winner along with the new boy. Hopefully now we have three top defenders, and two very decent back ups if Gab takes on this challenge like every well paid footballer who believes in his own abilities should.

  3. Arsenal CB rating now based on yesterday’s match-
    No. 1- Boss K
    No. 2- Mustafi (I thinkit’s done)
    No. 3- ROB HOLDING
    No. 4- BFG/Gabriel based on opposing team.
    No. 5- as No. 4
    No. 6- Chambers.
    In 2 years time – Mustafi/Holding will be No. 1 pairing.
    But am afraid, will holding get enough playing time to speed up progress?

    1. I like that comparison, imagine if big Tone had come back to work with him. I hope Wenger is big enough to let Bouldy have a crack at him.

  4. I read a report that mustafi is not a defensive leader on the pitch. Does anyone have any information/knowledge on this? I had assumed that mustafi could be cover/rotation with kos.

    1. Where did you read this report? He was Valencia’s captain last season so seems a bit odd to suggest he has no leadership qualities.

      1. Jonm, I read from the guy that does the Revista de la liga show, and he said that Mustafi is in the absolute 1 percent of the worlds top defenders.

    2. Many reports have been that he is not a defensive leader. His contrasting stats while partnering Otamendi (who is a leader) and Abdennour (who has been anything but calamitous) show that. There is always room for improvement though. While Kos came, he was no leader either.

  5. Wenger comes in for a lot of criticism when he buys young players, comments like, we need established world class players now, not ones for the future and usually with some adverse comment about Sanogo or similar. The other criticism is that he should be concentrating on what we need now, not what we need for the future.

    If wenger had waited until he signed mustafi before signing holding, then holding would in all probability be now at another PL club. If we do not sign promising young players then the future of the club is downhill, we need the likes of Bellerin and Iwobi coming through.

  6. Holding seems to be one of those players who appears to be having a quiet game as he goes about his business. You always remember the last ditch slide tackling or the aggressive nature of some players. Holding is a player who doesn’t get himself into unnecessary difficult, his positioning is absolutely spot on for such a young dude. I’d have to say he’s just such an intelligent player. I didn’t really notice him in the first two games or in preseason, I knew he was doing ok but I was wondering about all the praise. Then I remembered what older pundits used to say about someone who quietly goes about there business. They’d say how they can be underrated because they don’t put themselves into difficulty, then having to make last ditch tackles. They’d point out how his clearances look straight forward, but it’s due to his reading and positioning of the game. They’d point out how intelligent a player is to be able to position himself so well, and how it can go unnoticed at times. We do look to have found a real marvel here lads, Id love to know which scout put us onto him, and did he also point out Asano.

  7. Think AW will now keep playing holding until the new German settles in to epl football. Then AW will just rotate to keep them fit and well. We now have a DM and some strong players around him. Just wish he would play a 442

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