“The prize is huge” Journalist explains Arteta’s decision to replace Odegaard with Holding

Mikel Arteta made an interesting decision when he took off Martin Odegaard and replaced him with Rob Holding in the last few minutes of Arsenal’s win against Aston Villa.

The Gunners led from the 30th minute thanks to Bukayo Saka’s well-struck goal.

They were still in control of the game for much of the first half and after the interval.

Towards the end of the match, Villa piled on the pressure against their visitors.

They wanted to square the game badly, but Arsenal was resilient in defending.

The Gunners eventually added a new defender with 5 minutes to go when Holding entered the pitch in place of Odegaard.

Sky Sports journalist, Ben Grounds says that decision shows clearly that all Arsenal care about now is results.

He said on Sky Sports: “It was a sign of where the game was that Rob Holding replaced Martin Odegaard with five minutes to play. It is all about results for Arsenal at this stage of the campaign and there is no need to entertain. 

“The prize is huge if they can finish in the top four after five years away from the Champions League and they strengthened that position at Villa.

“Mikel Arteta needed holding back by fourth official Martin Atkinson as he continued to point at his players to track back during an attritional second half.”

Just Arsenal Opinion

At this stage of the season, it doesn’t matter how many goals we score, what matters most is that we win the games.

If we can keep defending well and get just 1-0 wins between now and the end of the season, it would be amazing because it would get us into the Champions League.

Arteta has been such a breath of fresh air for this club and he deserves all the credit if we finish in the top four.

Tags Ben Grounds Martin Odegaard Rob Holding


  1. A red an interesting comment from a writer, stating he had .never seen Arteta lose a game after resorting to a low block system.
    He went on to say its the most frustrating set up to opposing team, and how he had known the game was finishing 0ne nil the minute he saw Holding getting ready to come on.

    Find this very interesting, I must take note

  2. Replacing a midfielder with a defender with 5 minutes to go to see out a 1-0 lead. Goodness that must be the first time in football history a defender has been subbed on to protect a lead. Incredible. Unbelievable. Revolutionary. I wonder if Jose Mourinho or Diego Simeone have ever heard about this new tactic. Next outrageous incredible move will be to sub on an attacker to replace a defender when a team is behind and needing to score goals. The more pertinent point is that Artea waited till the 86th minute nearly a full hour after the goal to impliment this never before thought of innovative strategy. Was that because he has total faith in the starting defense to do the job, has no faith in Holding to defend for more than 5 minutes or was Odegaard simply tired out? Significantly Two rarely used strikers Pepe 69th and Nketiah 78th were subbed on before a defender. Surely this means Arteta had complete confidence in his defense and the Holding sub was just to use up the third sub option and run down the clock. Ben with his ear to the Grounds might know the answer but one miraculous revelation per day perhaps is enough.

  3. Arteta has done this before, bringing on Holding late in the game. It has proved a smart move!

    Sadly, I thought Pepe was dreadful when he came on. He seemed uninterested. Maybe Barcelona would like to take him off our hands?

    I think Arteta should sit Eddie N down and force him to watch film of Lacazette all day, stressing how the older man plays, and emphasize his amazing work rate.

    When Eddie came on he looked lost on his own up front.

    Thought Leno was good, apart from his distribution (late in the game it seemed like he was trying hit Gerard with every kick from goal).

    1. I fully agreed with your comments on Pepe & Nketiah. Sad to say, when given opportunity to play, see this is how the 2 performed.

  4. Pepe did look flat today, and had some mental mistakes with the ball also.

    Regarding Nketiah, the “looking lost” and headless chicken antics are par for the course I’m afraid. Seen that movie going on 3 years now.

    He even was benched in Championship while on loan. He needs to find a club away from the spotlight to work on his fundamentals, and sharpen the few tools he possesses.

    Wish him all the best, away from Arsenal. Laca too for that matter, never was nor will be the goal scoring striker we need.

  5. Fairfan it’s clear you take no prisoner, I should have elaborate a little more,

    The point was the initial author was making it know, once the gaffer sets his team in a low block system opposing team finds it frustrating and difficult to break down and this is from the beginning of a match and not necessarily the last five minutes.
    Maybe a 343 system eg.

    So I was just thinking, what if we had set up that way to play Pool Wednesday night a 343 low block system.
    That’s why I found his comment interesting

    I found his comment interesting as that would confirm the gaffer genuinely think he could beat Pool and tried to.

    It also means the gaffer wanted to be seen as an attacking coach as he tried to beat Pool by going toe to toe with same.

    It is indeed interesting to think the gaffer knows he could sit back in a low block, frustrate the opposition and take a point

  6. @ Gunsmoke. I think it’s interesting that Arteta uses 7 defenders and 4 attackers with wingbacks overlapping for width. Most top teams City, Liverpool + Chelsea in particular play 8 defenders sometimes 9 defenders like Chelsea did in the away second leg v Lille. So perhaps you are right Arteta is actually a little more risk taking than the top 3. Is that because with out European football we can get up and down the pitch then have time to recover before the next match?

    1. Agreed other top teams use more defensive minded players, but additionally they have players who constantly find the net in attack. Arteta has to take more risks by having a more attack minded players, because we need to rely on goals from all over the field. We can’t rely on an attacker banging in 20+ goals a season. Nor are the boys at the age where they’ll consistently find the net, but that will come.

      A problem we found when Aubamyangs form fell off a cliff for 2 years we were struggling to score. So things were tweaked to Laca playing like a big CF offering himself to bring other players into the game and setting them up in attacking positions. For this reason we have to have more attack minded players on the pitch I believe.

      But this will also benefit us if and when we sign a top striker. I think this squad would suit Haaland down to the ground his productivity would go through the roof at Arsenal surrounded by these boys. His agents are also about putting Erling in the right environment to improve (unlike Vlahovic). So with CL football I think he could be our top target

      1. Fairfan and James i agree, It is going to make a massive difference when you throw a marquee striker.in the mix.

        Strongly agree a player like Eirling productivity could go through the roof if that’s your striker of choice

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs