Tag Archives: Newcastle

Rob Holding departure a “good deal for all parties”

I love Rob Holding.

In the modern era of footballers, he is a bit of a throw back.

A no nonsense defender not concerned with how he looks or chasing fame and celebrity. He turns up, does his job and goes home.

has not been groomed for stardom from a young age. Just a working class normal lad who happens to be good at football.

It is so hard to connect with most footballers these days but Holding was one that was easy to like. If felt like he was me or you. Just better at football.

Holding is an underrated player who was integral to us winning the FA Cup in 2016/17 and 2019/20. I do not think his efforts in both of those victories should be underestimated. He does not have a couple of medals in his cabinet due to being someone who sat on the bench and never contributed. He deserves those medals.

So despite my love in with the balding Holding, I would also not be too upset to see him leave.

For everything to like about Holding, he does not quite have it to be a top 4 footballer. And that is what Arsenal need right now.

His lack of pace sees him getting caught out when going wide to cover Hector Bellerin, and often means Arsenal have to sit deeper than Mikel Arteta perhaps wants to.

Holding is capable of some immense performances, but he is also liable to many lapses of judgement throughout the season.

Playing for a mid-table team, his immense performances will be more important than his lapses of judgement. But if you are chasing Champions League football, you need defenders who make very few mistakes.

Arsenal have spent £50million on Ben White this summer.

White is quicker than Holding, better positionally and a superior passer. Everything that Arteta wants.

There is a reason why White and not Holding went to the Euro’s this summer.

Holding is the level below White. He would play second fiddle to his fellow Englishman.

Holding has a desire to make the England squad for a major international tournament.

In a recent interview he said:

“When the squads were being announced, I had my eye on it. You never know, so I was looking. It didn’t happen for me this time but that’s not going to deter me or make me feel it’s never going to.”

This summers tournament would have been Holding’s best chance of making an England squad.

With 30 Premier League appearances to his name in 2020/21, 28 starts, he will unlikely never play more football for Arsenal than he did last season.

Playing second fiddle to White will see his game time dramatically reduced and almost guarantee he does not make England’s next World Cup squad.

He would have seen the likes of Conor Coady, White and Tyrone Mings make Gareth Southgate’s squad despite playing for lesser clubs.

Holding will know his best chance of going to Qatar would be to move away from Arsenal and play every league game for the next 18 months .

At 25-years-old, a move away for Arsenal is the only way he will get week in, week out football.

The move would also suit Arsenal.

We currently have too many players; and whilst we have got rid of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis from last season, we still have one too many defenders.

With no European football, we do not need to carry 5 centre backs and 3 right backs. One must go.

The options to leave would be either Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers or Holding.

If Cedric leaves, Chambers then becomes 2nd choice right back to Hector Bellerin (or his replacement). If Holding leaves, Chambers becomes 4th choice centre back as cover for Ben White. If it is Chambers who goes, Cedric and Holding maintain their positions.

But you can only sell players if there is a buyer.

There will not be too many clubs in for Cedric – who turns 30 at the end of this month. So that gives you a choice between keeping Chambers or Holding.

Taking into account everything that has been said so far, Chambers might be the better option as understudy for White.

Chambers is closer in style of football to White.

He is a good passer of the ball and quicker than Holding.

That means if White is injured, Chambers would probably be the better man to bring in. Playing Chambers would mean we would not have to change our defensive tactics. We would not need the team to drop 10 yards deeper to cover Holding’s lack of pace.

Chambers is a more like for like replacement for White than Holding is.

He is also more versatile – capable of covering right back in an emergency and he could also play a role as 5th choice central midfielder.

When it comes to reducing our centre backs, we also have to look forward 12 months to when William Saliba returns.

If Saliba has a good season in France and continues to develop his game, he will be back in the Arsenal squad next season.

That will leave Arsenal with 6 centre backs once more.

It makes a lot of sense for Arsenal to shed one centre back this summer and then another next – especially as we do not have European football.

Next summer we sell which of Holding or Chambers is still at the club; or Saliba depending on the development of latter.

So if we get an offer for Holding (or Chambers) in the region of £20million this summer, we would be crazy to turn it down as their value will only likely diminish next summer with a year less playing.

The two obvious clubs that could target Holding are Newcastle and Leicester City.

Both sides play with deep defences so Holding would suit their style of play.

Leicester will be in the market for a new centre back following Wesley Fofana’s sickening pre-season injury.

Holding would be an easy deal for them to get done – and Arsenal could potentially use him as part of a deal for James Maddison.

Newcastle are the ones he has been most heavily linked with overnight.

It is actually funny looking at Newcastle Twitter who are slating the deal. Holding would become their best centre back.

Many are saying “if he is not good enough for Arsenal he is not good enough for Newcastle”. This the same fan base who are celebrating signing Joe Willock like it is Lionel Messi.

It is perhaps a level of delusion that Newcastle fans have always had.

They finished 12th last season. And 13th the two previous seasons. They are a relegation battling side, not a European chasing.

We have also seen it with Aston Villa. Them thinking that they are “on par” with Arsenal. Ignoring that our 8th place finish is seen as a failure for us. It would be a huge success for them.

A mid-table side – the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leeds United – is exactly the level Holding should be playing at.

Teams like Newcastle should be targeting top sides fringe players.

Not being at the level Arsenal require moving forward does not mean he is not the level that would improve Newcastle.

Like Willock, I would wish Holding all the luck if he moves on.

Rob Holding leaving will be good for the player who has England ambitions, good for Arsenal who would add £20million or so into the coffers and good for whoever he joins who would be getting a solid Premier League centre back. A good deal for all parties.

Have a good Tuesday.


Match Report: Arsenal 4 – 0 Newcastle

Arsenal (0) 4 Newcastle United (0) 0
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 16th February 2020. Kick-off time: 4.30pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Nicolas Pépé, Mesut Özil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Eddie Nketiah.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Emiliano Martínez, Joe Willock, Sead Kolašinac, Gabriel Martinelli.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (54 mins), Nicolas Pépé (56 mins), Mesut Özil (89 mins), Alexandre Lacazette (94 mins)
Yellow Cards: Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 67%
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: circa 60,000

For our first competitive match in eighteen days, we welcome old adversaries Newcastle United, who are a place below us in the Premier League table at the time of writing, but unfortunately share the same points as us; both sides desperately need a victory at The Emirates this afternoon, which by rights, should lead to a fiercely competitive match. The big news of the day is that young and exciting Eddie Nketiah has earned a place in the starting eleven ahead of Alexandre Lacazette; could this surprising decision be a glimpse of the future?

A wild and thunderous beginning to the match which saw Granit Xhaka picking up the first booking of the game with less than ten minutes on the clock due to a reckless challenge; however, as a team, we started to push the ball around fairly confidently and were unlucky not to open the scoring when an impressive attack broke down in the Magpies’ penalty area. Incredibly, goalie Bernd Leno pulled off a miraculous save when a shot from Sean Longstaff ricocheted off Dani Ceballos’ leg which was destined for the back of our net, when somehow our goalkeeper twisted himself around to turn the ball around the post for a corner. A close shave indeed. Despite the team struggling to gain rhythm and control in the first quarter of the game, Bukayo Saka was unlucky not to score after twenty minutes when a looping shot from outside the box narrowly missed the opponents’ goal. Worryingly, Newcastle United seemed to catch us cold with fast smash’n’grab tactics, and it has to be said that it was some kind of miracle that many of their attacks did not end up with the visitors taking the lead. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claimed our first shot on target just after the half-hour mark when a Mesut Özil inch-perfect pass found our Gabon striker just inside the box, but his left-footed shot was easily saved by Martin Dúbravka in the visitors’ goal. Now we started to wake up, with a series of intelligent movements both on and off the ball; it was one of these attacks on the visitors’ goal that led to a superb shot from Eddie Nketiah that by rights, on any other day, would have been a goal had it not been for an excellent save from the Magpies’ goalie, who just before half-time also athletically tipped a Nicolas Pépé free-kick over the bar.

Half-time came and went, with the second half starting pretty much as the first one ended, with Arsenal gaining control and passing the ball around looking for a way through the Magpies’ midfield. Eddie Nketiah hit the crossbar from close range after some sterling work by Nicolas Pépé on the byline, jinking in and out of defenders seemingly at will. At last, after fifty-four minutes, a Nicolas Pépé cross into the visitors’ area found the head of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who wasted no time in opening the scoring for us, and incredibly, just two minutes’ later, Bukayo Saka twisted and turned two Newcastle defenders inside out on the left wing, then passed the ball low and true for Nicolas Pépé, who scored our second goal of the day with his sweet left foot. Fortunately for us, Ciaran Clark missed an open goal just after the hour mark, and we somehow appeared to just reboot and start again with hardly a blink. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bounced the ball off the crossbar after a Mesut Özil assist, and by now, our confidence became obvious to all and sundry as the match wore on. Allan Saint-Maximin hit the post with an clever shot with a quarter of an hour remaining, and although we were shaken, we were certainly not stirred. After Bukayo Saka pointlessly received a yellow card for an unfortunate collision, Lucas Torreira replaced Dani Ceballos with ten minutes of the match remaining, and so with the game ebbing away, Eddie Nketiah was substituted for Alexandre Lacazette; seeing fresh legs on the pitch, the team were off and running again. Literally, with a minute to go on the clock, Nicolas Pépé managed to pass a simple ball to Alexandre Lacazette, who, as he was falling down, got the ball to the advancing Mesut Özil, who easily put the ball into the back of the net for our third of the match (and his first goal for ten months as well). Joe Willock replaced goalscorer Mesut Özil in injury time, and despite the massive advantage, we still came forward looking for more goals to be added to our tally; and we did! Alexandre Lacazette got our fourth and final goal from close range in the fourth minute of injury time to make it a satisfying afternoon’s work for everyone involved with Arsenal Football Club.

Well, just how good was that win today? Overall, we played very well, and there were so many good things to take away from this match. Just how impressive was Bukayo Saka out on the left? It was great to see Nicolas Pépé becoming the player that we all know he can be, and Mesut Özil played like a man possessed at times, spraying passes hither and thither. There couldn’t have been an Arsenal fan in the stadium who wanted to run on the pitch and give Alexandre Lacazette a hug of relief  when he scored the winner in injury time. We needed this victory so much after everything the fans, players and this club has been through in the past few months. Let us savour the win, and hope it gives us renewed confidence for the rest of the season, starting with the Europa League game at Olympiacos on Thursday. At last. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Olympiacos at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece on Thursday 20th February at 8.00pm (Europa League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Match Report: Newcastle 0 – 1 Arsenal

Newcastle United (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 1
Premier League
St. James’ Park, Barrack Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4ST
Sunday, 11th August 2019. Kick-off time: 2.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Calum Chambers, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Nacho Monreal; Mattéo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka; Reiss Nelson, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joe Willock; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Emiliano Martínez, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Nicolas Pépé, David Luiz, Gabriel Martinelli.

Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (58 mins)
Yellow Cards: Granit Xhaka; Reiss Nelson, Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: circa 47,600

You’ve really got to wonder haven’t you? This always happens on the first day of a new season; high (and sometimes unreasonable) media predictions along with the exuberance of supporters means that we all get carried along on a wave of hope, and God forbid, horror. Having said all that, this victory today in a rainy St. James’ Park was a fantastic way to start this, an extremely important season for us all.
I would much rather be us than them; demonstrations against the owners outside the ground, a much publicised toothless boycott along with their new/old signing wearing an “icon” baseball cap; can this really be life in the 21st Century for the Magpies?

Arsenal however, absolutely ooze determination, class and a desire for success. We saw this in the first half, when Newcastle United pinned us back in our own half for long periods, with Jonjo Shelvey prodding and poking our defence with sweeping passing and snap shooting. Indeed, it was just before half-time when a shot from Shelvey clattered against the post, with Bernd Leno beaten. Trudging off the field, our players looked a wee bit downhearted, but there was nothing that happened in the first half for them to question themselves; if anything, theirs was the glory, despite the driving rain.

As we observed in the last campaign, our reserves of strength appear in the second half of matches, and this looks as if it will be the same this season. Although Unai Emery left most of the new signings on the bench for this match, the players that took the field simply assumed control, with the remarkable Ainsley Maitland-Niles winning balls and getting first to tackles in the midfield  areas, and it has to be said that his influence and spirit inspired the others to go ahead and win this match. It was starting to look as if three points were there for the taking, and slowly and surely, we were directing traffic as only we could.

The goal, when it came, amazed everyone, snd in some ways, surprised no-one. Ainsley Maitland-Niles seized the ball from the hapless Paul Dummet’s wayward pass, and suddently everyone in the stadium sensed that something special was on. Simply ignoring the poor efforts of  Jamaal Lascelles, he slotted an inch perfect ball into the space between the defence and the goalkeeper where the predatory Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lay in wait like a hungry shark eyeing its prey. Just two touches from the Gabon international and the ball was in the back of the net in the blink of an eye, and from this moment onwards, the Magpies were finished.

Unai Emery brought on three newbies, namely Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli and our record signing, young Nicolas Pépé to lively up ourselves, which certainly worked. With our substitutes on the pitch, we became imaginative, brave and in a funny way, risk averse. Newcastle never looked as if they were able to equalise at any time, let along provide the spark to go and grab one; Arsenal just simply did what they always do best, namely shut up shop, keep the ball and run the clock down, which they successfully did.
Lots of good things came from today’s performance in Newcastle, the “Young Guns” who were utterly superb, as well as the older players who worked tirelessly to keep the much-coveted clean sheet, which at this level is an increasingly hard thing to achieve. Much too early for us to get excited, but a win on the first day of the season is one that sends us all back to work tomorrow with a smile on our faces, and hope in our hearts for a successful campaign.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Next match: Burnley at The Emirates on Saturday,17th August at 12.30pm. Be there. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.