What does Mustafi’s arrival mean for Rob Holding? Keep or loan?

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?



  1. NY_Gunner says:

    Keep him in the 1st squad…Don’t stunt his growth. Dude is eager to learn as well as enthusiastic. Yet calm in play.

    1. Fatboy Gooney says:

      I Agree, mate.
      And if my memory serves me right, even Chambers made a good start to his Arsenal career when he was thrown straight into the team as a DM and look what happened to him, once game time was reduced.

      I’m sure that Wenger has already commented about Mustafi having to displace Holding from the starting lineup.
      We could even see Holding being paired with Mustafi as it seems that Koscielny is still having problems with his back injury. (Inflammation)

      1. dankored says:

        It’s his Achilles not his back.

      2. bran99 says:

        very true, and another thing we are in 4 competitions at once, give him the lead role in Carling and FA cup with one experienced CB to partner him, and sometime throw him in in those matches we are holding a narrow lead and things could go bad any time

  2. mobaygunner says:

    Why loan him??..he’s playing good right now….if gabby dont get his self together and play well he could be behind this guy as far as i see

    1. PRINCE AFZ says:

      Yes I foresee us selling Gabriel in the near future. Defense is not all about being aggressive alone. Good reading of the game is an essential part of it. Gabriel cost us funny goals from lack of reading aerial balls and cross-ins last season. Holding from what I have seen so far is calm and reads the game. He needs to play with the experienced players to grow.

      1. NY_Gunner says:

        @Prince AFZ
        It would be a foolish move, if we were to sell Gabe. Up until that Chelsea sending off, dude was a beast. Always getting in front of attackers and restricting their movement in our box, as well as showing some aerial prowess.
        He just needs to get back to that place. Then he’s awesome…

  3. Solstar says:

    He should be retained in the first team squad .He is good enough to be on the bench and learn from the best, it will aid his personal as well . That is the essence of depth that we have clamoured for all ds while. Gabriel and Mert will fight for their places when they are back bcos Rob will definitely have a chance to play going by what he has done so far this season. GFL

  4. Twig says:

    Mustafi will have to earn his badges.

    You see the thing with defenders, is even if you’re class, it doesn’t mean you’ll work well with another class defender. If you have two defenders that love to push forward (like the pairing of Koscielny and Vermalaen) then you’ll have a problem. If you have two defenders that don’t communicate well OFF the pitch, you can’t expect much rapport ON the pitch.

    Mustafi is a good defender, but we’ll have to see if he works well with Koscielny. At the moment, it’s only Mertesacker and Koscielny that are proven in this Arsenal side. We’re yet to see what Holding, Gabriel and Mustafi can do over a long period of time. Do you recall how long it took Koscielny to settle? It took him long!

  5. dankored says:

    Keep him so he can train alongside kos(the boss) and also mustafi in order to improve. Players get better when they train And play alongside top quality players.

  6. Solstar says:

    He should be retained in the first team squad .He is good enough to be on the bench and learn from the best, it will aid his personal development as well . That is the essence of depth that we have clamoured for all ds while. Gabriel and Mert will fight for their places when they are back bcos Rob will definitely have a chance to play going by what he has done so far this season. GFL

  7. Vlad says:

    Keep Holding, sell Gabriel… simple as that.

  8. Arsenal_Girl says:

    He is playing well. Why loan him?
    Especially without Mert out, we need him because we play in 4 tournaments. We have PL, CL, FA cup and League Cup matches.
    We need Holding big time

  9. TH14atl says:

    Keep Holding. Let him learn, grow, and compete. And of course we need numbers and cover.

    OT: For me, the only way that Perez gets the starting job over Giroud is if he flat out beats him out. Arsene is loyal to his players to a fault, and stubborn and wants to see us win with Giroud leading the line, despite history telling us that that’s not possible. Arsene would never bring in someone that we displace Giroud from the beginning. Only someone that would push him and make him step up his game, and truly compete. Olivier will have to get hurt, go cold – as he’s prone to do – and then Perez will have to shine. Giroud is a super-sub/squad player at best, and can do great things for us there.

    Whatever the case, I hope it leads to nothing but positive results for our squad.

    1. proffetic says:

      We all know that Wenger has his favourites. For some reason both Merteacker and Giroud figure among those. I would be happy for both to be displaced thus having having pace to spare in both defense and attack. Mertesacker is slow,arkward and cumbersome. I’m sick of people saying he is a leader with a wealth of experience. Get someone else to collect the dinner money .Giroud is flat footed and runs like a duck.Gabriel is just lacking a little with confidence but he will be fine.My four to choose from at the back would be Kos Mustaffi,Holding and Gabriel.

  10. PRINCE AFZ says:

    I don’t accept the idea that Wenger is loyal to some players like Giroud as some people suggest. Players like Bellerin, Iwobi, Monreal, Le Coq, won’t have the opportunity they have today. Debuchy would have been a regular. Ask yourself how many of our other forwards give us better options. I remember when Welbeck came back from injury toward the end of last season, he was used ahead of Walcott and Giroud because of his efforts.

    1. TH14atl says:

      Used ahead of Walcott because it was late in the season and Theo had been rubbish the entire season (also jumped ahead of Campbell who had been playing well but still lost his place). Used ahead of Giroud because he was in the midst of a 15 game scoreless streak. Pretty easy to replace those two guys at that point.

      To your other players:

      Bellerin – Was 2nd to Debuchy until Debuchy got hurt, and then hector took his chance.
      Monreal – 2nd to an underperforming and inconsistent Gibbs. Then Gibbs got hurt as he often does, then Nacho took his chance and hasn’t given it back.
      Iwobi – Theo, Jack, Ramsey, AOC all hurt, under-performing, or both, Iwobi came in showed some true footballing ability and didn’t relinquish his spot. Watch when they both come back, Ramsey will be played wide ahead of him, though he shouldn’t.
      LeCoq — only brought back because Flamini, Arteta, Jack, and Aaron were all hurt. Took his chance and proved that he finally provided us some steel that we had been missing for years. Otherwise Arsene would’ve persisted with a slow late-challenging arteta, or a rash late-challenging Flamini. Hence why he originally loaned him out.

      The mood is starting to change around the Emirates though, as more quality players are either coming in or establishing themselves in pivotal positions — Mesut, Santi, Xhaka centrally for example — and players are being forced to either step their game up, or step aside — Jack for example. This can only be good for us.

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