Tag Archives: rob holding

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.



Hard-working, Humble, Home-grown Holding earns new contract

Rob Holding, you know…

Fair play to Rob Holding. Last summer he looked out the door. Set to join Newcastle on loan due to Arsenal having 8 central defenders. The deal fell through at the last minute due to injuries and Holding has gone from strength to strength since.

Holding may not be a superstar. Is certainly not world class. But he is solid. A solid play, a solid character. He is the type of person you need in a squad.

2020/21 is his 5th season at The Arsenal, and in that time he has played just 53 Premier League matches.

His time at the club has been disrupted by injury and whilst his mentality has never been in question, his ability has been.

Had Holding departed Arsenal in the summer, he would have left with his head held high, having been an outstanding performer in 2 FA Cup Final victories over Chelsea.

Holding is a solid mid-table Premier League centre back. He would start week in week out for most sides in the top 6. He is the level of Michael Keane, James Tarkowski, Conor Coady.

He is a basic player, lacks a bit of pace, but does not over complicate things.

Win ball, pass ball.

And that is what you need sometimes in a squad player. Someone that does not try to play above their level. Someone that puts in a solid performance, does not try and be a superstar, and does not make mistakes.

And Holding will very much become a squad player at Arsenal.

Whilst we have a lot of central defenders on our books, that will change between now and the summer.

Sokratis will leave within the next few days, whilst Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz will leave in the summer.

That will leave Arsenal with Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, William Saliba and Calum Chambers.

Gabriel and Pablo Mari look like solid options on the left hand side of defence, whilst Rob Holding is the only realistic option on the right hand side.

Chambers has suffered yet another injury and his time with Arsenal must be coming to an end – he has not reached the levels Holding has.

Whilst there are question marks over whether William Saliba will be ready.

What Arsenal need to do in the summer is recruit a right sided central defender who is the level of Mari of Gabriel. Rob Holding is then reliable back up to that purchase.

The hope would have been Saliba would have been that man, but it is obvious Mikel Arteta does not feel he is ready.

I would not be surprised if Saliba goes out on loan to a Premier League team, someone like West Ham, for the whole of next season.

Saliba is still just 19-years-old and has plenty of time on his hand. There is no need to write him off, likewise we should not expect him to walk straight into the first team.

Arteta clearly wants people of a certain character at the club. Holding ticks those boxes.

Hard working, humble, home-grown.

Fair play to Holding for getting his head down, improving, staying fit and earning his new contract.


Arsenal will have to wait “until January” before selling central defenders

“Arsenal have 8 centre backs, we need to sell” has been written countless times over the summer.

As it stands, Arsenal have not sold a single one, with only Konstantinos Mavropanos leaving on loan to VfB Stuttgart in Germany – and he was not one of the “Magnificent Eight”.

So what is happening at the club with regards to our central defender situation?

Gabriel Magalhães was signed from Lille over the summer and William Saliba returned from his season long loan at Saint-Étienne, whilst David Luiz signed a new contract.

Arsenal also made the loan deal of Pablo Mari permanent.

A few people have questioned why Arsenal signed Pablo Mari, and then later went on to sign Gabriel, which pushed Mari down to 4th choice centre back – a role Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi could all have played.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

When Arsenal signed Mari, Gabriel was not on the radar as a transfer this summer.

Arsenal would have been scouting the Brazilian, but with a move likely next summer – so Arsenal agreed a deal for Mari back in January with Flamengo.

Gabriel then came available and Edu clearly felt the club could not afford to miss out on such a prestigious talent – even if it meant having one defender too many.

And that is how we came to sign both Gabriel and Mari.

Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba and Mari looked set to make up Arsenal’s defensive options with Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi all no longer required but none have yet exited stage left. The question is why?

A loan deal seemed to be agreed taking Holding to Newcastle, but the transfer quickly died and Holding found himself starting the first game of the season against Fulham.

Despite having 7 central defenders, Arsenal did not have a single one on the bench. This highlights why no one has left. They are all injured.

David Luiz picked up a knock prior to the Fulham game, but has now returned, whilst William Saliba was lacking in match sharpness having not played since March. A few games with the U23s might be needed for the Frenchman.

Those two joined Pablo Mari on the sidelines who is still recovering from damaging his ankle ligaments back in June. Mari is back in full training but it will be a couple of weeks before he is fully fit.

Without Luiz and Saliba in the short term, and Mari in the mid-term, Arsenal did the sensible thing and pulled the rug on the transfer of Holding to Newcastle. He was needed in Islington.

Holding still has a role to play at Arsenal albeit as 4th or 5th choice centre back.

If he remains at Arsenal this season, he will be back up to Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba and Mari; with the potential to replace Luiz as 4th choice next summer. It all comes down to whether he wants to be a bit-part player at Arsenal, or play week in week out at someone like Newcastle.

For now Arsenal can not afford to lose Holding.

Keeping Holding means they can afford to lose Sokratis.

Sokratis is another who is currently injured.

The club said he sustained a “mild strain to right calf in training”, with an of returning to full training “within the next week”.

You feel once he has recovered, his deal to Napoli will go through.

That leaves Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi.

The problem Arsenal face with the pair is they are both injured, with neither expected back in full training until October.

By the time they are “match fit” it will probably be November.

Injuries mean that they are not available to play (obviously) but also unlikely to be sold.

This puts Arsenal in a situation where we have 5 centre backs (Luiz, Gabriel, Saliba, Mari & Holding), and have an additional 2 that are not fully fit, who can not be sold.

So whilst selling Sokratis will take us down to 7 central defenders, only 3 are fit for selection for West Ham and 2 are not going to be full fit for at least another 6 weeks.

This will result in Arsenal not selling Chambers and Mustafi, and potentially not even registering the later.

Arsenal will then look to loan (or sell) the pair in January.

Mustafi, whose contract expires at the end of the season, could end up making a similar move to Cedric Soares.

A team might decide to pick him up on loan for 5 months, with the pre-contract agreement already in place to make the move permanent in June. A move like that would suit Arsenal, Mustafi and the club loaning him.

Likewise, we might see Chambers move out on loan in January, with an option to buy at the end of the season.

A similar deal could be done for Rob Holding if Pablo Mari has returned to full fitness, with Arsenal then having the option of Chambers, Holding or Mavropanos to return from loan and replace Luiz in 2021.

It might feel like Arsenal have a lot of centre backs at the club right now, but the reality is somewhat different.

Holding will stay, Sokratis will be sold, and not much else can realistically happen until January.