Will Chambers and Holding still be at Arsenal next season?

Can Holding and Chambers Survive? by Dan Smith

At 24 and 25 respectively, I still feel Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are young enough to be taught new tactics, coached to improve, still learn, which is meant to be Arteta’s strength.

Both have the issue of niggling injuries, meaning they never get a whole season to judge them on. Holding though has got himself in great shape and post-lockdown did enough to be given a chance.

Before his setback, I saw enough of Chambers on the ball to believe he has the qualities his manager wants from his defenders. Yet I’m worried Arsenal may have already shown them their cards.

They say action speak louder than words and the club’s actions worry me. Obviously Saliba has arrived, Mari’s loan was made permanent and Luiz’s contract was extended. So, if you believe reports that we are still targeting a new centre back, that will take the number up to 9!

So, is it a case of Holding, Chambers, Mustafi, Mavropanos and Sokratis at best all battling for one spot? That’s assuming long term we switch back to 4. If we persevere with a back 3 then (based on having 2 players per position) you could then justify having 6 CB. Yet I don’t know what opinions are being based on. Well In fact I do, I just don’t agree with them.

You cannot tell me that Luiz’s future in North London is secure based on a footballing decision? I refuse to believe a man who’s been taught by Pep Guardiola, judges Luiz superior to the rest. I’m not saying Holding was consistent but that can be justified by a long time on the side-lines. He doesn’t make the mistakes though someone a lot more experienced does. In fact, judged on this season, Mustafi was more reliable then Luiz. Shouldn’t the whole season be taken into consideration?

Apart from two terrific displays at Wembley, it’s hard to know what more the Brazilian could have done to not get an extension. He managed to get more red cards and penalties in one year at the Emirates, than in 7 at the Bridge. That won’t stop by the way. At 33 he won’t suddenly stop having moments of lost concentration.

I’ll be writing, and you will be reading, more articles about how Luiz cost us points. My worry is at that point will we be regretting letting Holding and Chambers go?

It wouldn’t shock me if Arteta been overruled here. I don’t see him choosing Luiz over two players he could work with on the training pitch. Nor could Mari have proved in just two starts that he was any better than what we had.

Don’t get me started on Cedric, Chambers could have been our back up right back.

What I do see, to get the investment he wants, those above Arteta are finding ways to fund his wish list and therefore the Spaniard has to pick his battles wisely.

While he might rate a Holding, is his fitness reliable enough to be a hill you want to die on? So, the business decision might be to sell the two centre backs who are at an age where they have value. The plan could be to sell them and with Luiz taking a pay cut we saved more money for Stan Kroenke.

Holding and Chambers hopes of staying won’t be helped either by our inability in the last few windows to find anyone who will pay Mustafi’s wages. Has he played well enough where that’s changed? I have this horrible feeling Sokratis might be hard to budge as well based on his salary?

What’s your opinion gooners?

If you think we should stick with a back 3 and Tierney’s our left back, pick 6 defenders to keep. If you are playing a back 4, pick 5.

Be kind in the comments

Dan Smith


  1. The long term decision that Arteta makes about the team’s best formation will have a significant bearing on who stays and goes. It seems clear that Sokratis, Mavropanos (on loan) and Mustafi will be on their way, with Saliba and, if you believe the rumour mill, Gabriel Magalhaes coming in.
    If Arteta sticks with 3 at the back, I can see one of Chambers or Holding staying at the club, but unlikely in a starting role. With Cedric and Mari’s stays made permanent, there is no option for Chambers to be a back up full back, he’s never looked comfortable there anyway and has no potency in going forward. Combine that with his unfortunate injury record, its hard to see Arteta keeping faith in him. Yes he can be coached, but at 25/26 he has transfer value that will dissipate as his contract winds down.
    Holding on the other hand showed he can operate in a back 3, and while he can be naive and isn’t the quickest, a back 3 gives you more of a shield. Provided he stays fit he can be a good player for us.
    I would sell Chambers for the cash, keep Holding.
    So it would be Saliba, Magalhaes (or whichever other CB comes in), Mari, Holding and Luiz. Mavropanos to go on loan, Mustafi and Sokratis out.

  2. Mustafi and sokratis need to be sold this season. Keep hold of holding and Chambers as I think this may be luizs last season with us.

    If the reports abkut the lile cb coming to us are correct that will give us 5 CBs in total this season. With how often our players get injured I think having 5 is a safe bet. Plus chambers is versatile and can cover cdm and RB.

    Next season if mavropanos has done well he can replace luiz long term. Sokratis and mustafi are both older and not worth holding on to imo

    1. Partnerships is what it’s all about.
      Saliba and (Gabriel?!) Both from the French league
      Luiz and Mari both know the Brazilian league
      Kosalniac and Mustafi both know the german culture
      Holding and Chambers both brits under 25yrs old and imo a future at AFC.

      But saying about partnerships if arsenal sell kosalniac or M.Niles for £30m and sokratis for £8m that will go some way to adding to a transfer budget

  3. How i wish chambers and Holding can stay fit for a full season or have limited injuries in a season. Well it all depends on who we get. That depends on Gabriel deal.

    I would love to keep them both but if one has to go then I will let chambers go and keep Holding

  4. DAN, A wonderfully and deeply explained set of conundrums on which I guess most will at least broadly agree with you.

    My personal take is that MA has factored in LUIZ’S dressing room influence on the younger players and his standing in the game( approx 14 trophies won I believe). Believe me, I too do not want Luiz to stay, for the very reasons you correctly said. But it is a fait accompli and we are stuck with him for the coming season. On Holding and Chambers I am less keen than you. Both are slow and Chambers esp so.
    I see it as MA wanting his own choice throughout the team and squad as quickly as possible . Lets be honest here; he inherited a pig in a poke and has worked absolute marvels to even get this far with that lot of misfits and square pegs in round holes. In short MA HAS AMPLY PROVED, TO ME FOR JUST ONE , THAT HE HAS EARNED OUR TRUST.
    I am therefore more than happy to leave things in his hands. I say all this, despite the malignant ownership – I almost wrote “presence”, but quickly realised how wrong THAT word would be – of Kroenke!

    1. It would be interesting to know how much of “in his hands” is true.

      Arteta certainly deserves our trust, I am just not that generous with those “upstairs”. But a year or two of great business would go a long way to restoring some faith.

      1. Stewart You make a great point and I imagine almost all of us on here have no real answer. I see it as an ongoing process though rather than a fait accompli, in that MA is quickly proving to be an inspirational and special coach.

        The more he proves to be special, then the more the financial decision makers above him will trust him. But as a pro bettor I would not stake my house on that; not with THIS owner!

  5. Pablo Mari wont be competitive until atleast November.William Saliba isnt going to be introduced immediately,he will be eased in.So he wont be a starter until mid october.Mav is on loan at Stuttgat,Calum Chambers is still out until next year so he cant even be sold.Mustafi return in Oct.That leaves us with only Luiz,Rob,Papa and one other that will be recruited for the start of the season.And by the time those in injuries come on board,there will be EPL,Carabou,Europa,FA Cup all running.Calum and Rob are staying.

  6. They need at least one, and maybe both. Like many who have posted, I am very up and down on both Holding and Chambers.

    Both have played some good games, both have played some stinkers. And of course, they miss a lot of time. The one thing in their defense, is that neither has had much time under Arteta. The team is playing better defense and the back is getting more support.

    Neither would start but they can be pretty good extras to fill out squads, play the non-league games and give somebody a night off.

    Until we know how good the newcomers actually might be, we can’t afford to throw everything away.

  7. I don’t think Luiz is ideal, and I agree, that he will probably make more mistakes.
    But I rate him more than Chambers and Holding, and I don’t think there is any reason to start a rumour, that Arteta must have been overruled, just because he sees it differently than you (if indeed he does).
    The “save money” argument has no substance. You could just as well claim, that if it had to do only with money, and Chambers and Holding actually do offer more, when they are fit, it would make much more financial sense to keep them and then sell, once they have shown, the potential some believe they have.
    No, my personal opinion is, Arteta is ambitious and is looking at building a potential title winning team, and I would be surprised, if he sees that team include Holding and Chambers. With all respect.

    1. If it’s not saving money
      Then it’s a footballing decision ?
      If Arteta has kept Luiz for footballing reasons I question.his judgement

      1. You can of course question his judgement. Some may agree, some not. But I trust MA to be the one with the expertise.

    2. I see it precisely that way too. MA does not want top four; he wants top spot! With the likes of Chambers and Holding we are not likely to make top half!

  8. I’ll hold on to holding and let go of Chambers, socratis, mavropanos. Mustafi can still do better judging on his last performances.

  9. Aubameyang has now signed his contract. Told you way back that there was an agreement but he was waiting to look at other stuff like our ambition, way forward and the like before signing. Don’t be shocked if it’s announced this week

  10. Good article Dan .The first thing I would highlight, is the appalling injury record of our centre backs with the exception of Luis. Although he is slow, he still has an astute brain and in the earlier part of his career he could be described as fairly athletic.I do not have high hopes of Mari making an impression at Arsenal.He has the physique and presence to cope in the EPL but is probably the slowest of a bunch who are all lacking in pace with the exception of Saliba and Mav .A prerequisite of any future CB signings must be speed for without that Arteta will never be able to play a high line back four system to match up with Liverpool and Man City.In any event, because of our current injuries, I can only see Socratic being sold and that will not be easy given his high wages and the fact that he is at best mediocre.No I’m afraid we will start the new season top heavy with, bang average ,injured centre backs and , realistically it could be at least a year before we are in a position to begin the clear out operation we badly need.

  11. Arteta is keen in having defenders confortable on the ball.Technical players in defence,able to play from the back.That’s why Chambers,Holding,Sokratis must go.Just brute force,not technique at all.Arteta want to follow in Manchester City’s steps-a technically gifted team,from the keeper all the way to the center forward.” Primitive” players are excluded.No more “ British core experiment”,please.A failure.Latin players all the way.Just like the beautiful teams Wenger created based mostly on French players.

  12. I’d consider letting Chambers and Holding go ahead of Mavropanos. The injuries have denied us the opportunity to see all 3 consistently, but the greek chap will surely be one of the best in the game of he stays fit, something I cant say of Holding or Chambers.
    Should we bring in another top CB, I’d release Mustafi although I really grew to like him, Sokratis, Chambers.
    I’d loan out Mavropanos again to an EPL team this time to get him playing time as Luiz transitions out.
    I’d keep Luiz, Mari, Saliba, the New CB and Holding. Thats five with Mav coming in next season.

  13. Can anyone please explain how Kroenke is making money out of Arsenal? Agreed he is not putting money in out of his pocket; however he hasn’t taken any out, yet his Board and senior executive have “managed” to reduce the value of his Arsenal asset by £150 million.

  14. Don’t get you started on Cedric? why? they guy is better defensively than Bellerin by quite some way imo.
    Besides, we can’t really judge him on his few appearances after the restart, lets be fair here.

    Holding and chambers, while i agree they have bother had some really good games this season and some bad ones. But CC was in awesome form before his injury and was probably our best defender. He is much more comfortable on the ball and can actually play out from the back under pressure, which Holding can’t, he flaps and panics and often gives the ball away hence putting his team mates under more pressure.
    Sokratis should go, period! no legs and he should go to the WWE.
    Mustafi, well what i am about to say my raise some eyebrows.
    He has been our standout defender since Arteta took over by a country mile, I wouldn’t be actively trying to sell him at this point, if an offer came in and he goes then so be it but i think he should be given till Jan to see if this form continues.
    Besides, Saliba i doubt will be ready, CC is out till atleast November as he returned to light training during the restart, Mari is in a similar situation with his return date.
    So if we get Gabriel in we will have 5 fit CB’s to start the season – Saliba, Luiz, Holding Sokratis and Gabriel, so being realistic here we can only really lose one this window and hopefully that would be Sokratis which will leave 4
    CC can also cover DM and RB so he is much more versatile than any of the CB’s we have ( Luiz as DM possibly).
    I also can’t see any club come in for a defender that is currently injured.

    1. Can I ask the epic displays you have seen from Cedric that make you say he’s better defensively then Bellerain?
      Wasn’t his only start a 1-0 defeat to Villa ?
      Is that enough to get a contract with us ?

      1. he’s been around long enough and is konwn for being a decent defender. The last Euros is proof enough too. It’s clear that he was scouted and intended to sign permanently as a squad player for us. Bellerin has never been a good defender so the bar isn’t high for another fullback to be better at it than him.

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