Will Rob Holding Become A First-Choice Defender For Arsenal?

In 2016, the writing was on the wall for legendary Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger as the leader of the north London club. Injuries had robbed Wenger of his first-choice defensive partnership and he looked to purchase a replacement.

In true Wenger style, the French manager did not look for a ready-made international defender but took a cut-price option in signing Rob Holding from Championship club, Bolton Wanderers. Holding would make some mistakes but did not look out of place to justify the confidence placed in him by Wenger and his assistance, Steve Bould.

Looking at the coaching setup at Arsenal in 2016, the young English center-back could not have hoped for a better grounding in the art of defending from Bould who had played a key role in taking the Gunners to glory in his playing days.

In the 2018-19 season, Rob Holding had broken into the first team under Spanish coach, Unai Emery aided by the switch to wing-backs and a central defensive three. The anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered by the defender against Manchester United ruined his progress last season and he now faces the prospect of trying to dislodge David Luis and Sokratis from the heart of the defense at the Emirates.

Emery seems to be settling on a chosen first-team lineup in his second season but is facing some serious questions about his center-ack partnership of Sokratis and Luiz. Both players have been responsible for high profile mistakes in the first few weeks of the season leaving the door open for new faces to take over.

Holding has been declared fit for the upcoming game against struggling Watford following a few games for the club’s under-23s. The English Premier League season is long and difficult meaning Emery will need different options throughout the upcoming months and Holding will need to be nursed back to the first team.

However, the question facing Emery is what will be his chosen lineup in defense and can he afford to play with only Luis and Sokratis at the heart of a still-shaky defense. The clamor for a three-man defense could grow in the coming months after memories of Chelsea’s title-winning team with David Luis at its heart come to mind.

The start to the Premier League season has been a mixed one with a draw against Tottenham leaving fans angry over what should have been a victory and a good win against Burnley. However, the easy loss to Liverpool showed up the problems at Arsenal FC which have yet to be addressed by Unai Emery.

In an Arsenal FC short, Rob Holding has performed consistently, if not outstandingly over the Premier League and could provide some stability in a three-man backline including current first-choice defensive duo, Luis and Sokratis. Hector Bellerin is usually seen as a better option as a wing-back than a traditional full-back with new signing Kieran Tierney another who will add to the options for Emery in the English Premier League.

If Unai Emery is to maintain the goodwill of fans at The Emirates he may have to look at new ways of defending to halt the current failures of his team against the top six in England.