Tag Archives: rob holding

Arsenal set for defensive crisis against Stoke?

Against Leicester City, Arsenal showed a weakness against the high ball into the box. A weakness which Leicester City exploited ruthlessly with all 3 of their goals coming from crosses into the box.

In Arsenal’s defence, they were playing two left backs and a 21 year old Rob holding at centre back. But it is not really a defence, in both ways.

Leicester continually played balls down the channel between Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin, which dragged the only centre back out of position. This left space in the middle for Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki to attack.

Arsenal were also poor at corners. They lacked leaders at the back, someone to take control of the situation and get his head on it. So often this man is Olivier Giroud, but with him playing second fiddle to Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal looked short at the back. Literally.

Up next is Stoke City. And there are reasons to worry.

Stoke City have one of the narrowest pitches in the league and have destroyed Arsenal before using the simple game plan of swing as many balls into the box as possible. If over the next few days Arsenal do not develop a game plan to deal with the high ball, the side will once more struggle.

Laurent Koscielny is still out suspended. Stoke City will be the third game after the silly sending off on the last day of last season which caused him to miss the cup final.

Also missing from the game against Leicester was club captain Per Mertesacker.

Having been involved in a gruesome clash with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill at the Community Shield, his wound had not sufficiently repaired itself in time for the victory over Leicester.

The Arsenal website does not have him listed as injured, but they do list Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey as out. My bet is the lad who updates the website is currently face down in a gutter in Magaluf.

Mertesacker’s height in the middle of the park would be key against a side like Stoke City. And his organisation and leadership would see both Holding and Monreal perform better.

Shkodran Mustafi was fit enough to be on the bench against Leicester. Another weeks training under his belt and he should be fit to start against Stoke City. Gabriel is 100% out – injured and set to be sold.

Taking into account the threat faced by Stoke City, if Mustafi and Mertesacker as fully fit, it would be worthwhile playing both alongside Rob Holding. It would even be worth starting Olivier Giroud upfront.

If Arsenal do start with the same defence as they used against Leicester, Arsenal’s travelling fans could be in for another tough day in the grim city.




Arsenal on international duty

Has anyone actually bothered following the international tournaments that have been going on in the last few weeks?

We have had the Confederations Cup in Russia and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland bubbling on nicely in the last couple of weeks. And now we are at the business end of both competitions.

I have kind of drifted in and out of both competitions. With the Lions Tour, some cricket and Love Island, my TV time has been fairly filled. But I have tried to catch a bit of Chile and a bit of England U21s.

Both Chile (in the Confederations Cup) and England (in the U21s) have made their respective semi finals. England play tonight, Chile tomorrow night.

In the U21 tournament, England are 3rd favourites to win.

It has been a bit of a mixed ability tournament. The majority of German’s U21 team – England’s opponents tonight – are in Russia playing for the 1st team, as Joachim Lowe decided to play a development team and rest the likes of Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer.

Likewise the England side is certainly not our strongest set of U21 players as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford on senior duty.

A stand out player for the England U21’s has been Arsenal’s Calum Chambers.

Chambers has had a rough couple of years since his big money move to Arsenal, but it is easy to forget that he is still just 22. He has started every game for England, ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup hero Rob Holding.

Before this summer, Chambers would have been one of those slated to leave Arsenal. But his performances for England would have changed a lot of fans mind on him. He has been brilliant, and most noticeably very strong in the air.

The fact he has been continually picked ahead of Rob Holding is testament to his ability. Arsenal would be silly to let him leave.

As for Rob Holding, it has been a frustrating tournament for him. From the high of the FA Cup win and becoming an Arsenal regular, to struggling to get any game time for England, behind Calum Chambers and some bloke from Swansea (in fairness, Alfie Mawson has played well).

Whilst the England and German sides are certainly not the strongest they could put out, Spain have selected the best side they could, with many senior professionals stepping down to the junior level.

One such player has been Hector Bellerin.

Bellerin played 90 minutes in both the first and second game, before being rested for Spain’s 3rd group game – with Spain being guaranteed qualification. Favourites Spain face Italy in the semi finals.

Krystian Bielik would have been disappointed to be an unused substitute in all of Poland’s games.

Meanwhile over at the Confederations Cup, record breaking Alexis Sanchez started off the tournament injured, but has shown just what a key player he is for Chile as he made history and became their all time top scorer.

With the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal in the squad, there is certainly some value in Chile to beat Portugal, and even go on to win the thing.

Arsenal have more interested in the other semi-final as Germany take on Mexico. Shkodran Mustafi has played two of the 3 games for favourites Germany, where a big mistake against Chile led to club team mates Alexis Sanchez record breaking goal.

With Sanchez’s contract set to be resolved once the Confederations Cup is over, Arsenal fans will be itching for it to end at the weekend.

Plenty of football to watch this week.

Have a good one


Who are Arsenal scouting at the UEFA Under21 Championship?

Arsenal scouts are set to join those of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham in Poland this summer to watch the crème de la crème of Europe’s youngsters at the Under 21 tournament. Incidentally, reports are that Manchester United and Liverpool have decided not to send scouts to Euro 2017.

So just who could Arsenal be scouting?

Renato Sanches (Portugal)

Just 12 months ago the Bayern Munich youngster was staring for Portugal in the senior version of the tournament. Still just 19, the youngster will be hoping to put a poor first season at Bayern Munich behind him, and remind the world why he was nominated as Golden Boy in 2016. This is a tournament he really should dominate.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

Recently turned down a contract at home town club AS Milan, the now familiar name has defied his young age by breaking into Italian sides first team at just 18. With his contract set to expire at the end of 2018, a move this summer could be on the cards. Only downside is we would then have to deal with Mino Raiola. A greedy, greedy man.

Max Arnold (Germany)

With Jack Wilshire set to leave the club, and Santi Cazorla set to miss the rest of the year injured, Arsenal are lacking in creative central midfielders. The Wolfsburg man recently ran a friendly against England with a display of precise, intelligent passing and power.

Sandro Ramirez (Spain)

Set to leave Malaga this summer for a cut price £7million, he was destined to join Atletico Madrid before they were hit with a transfer embargo. Whilst certainly not a top choice for Arsenal, his cheap price tag could result in a risk to nothing in case other senior targets do not materialise.

Ruben Neves (Portugal)

The middle of the park for Portugal will intriguing to watch this summer with Ruben Neves joining Renato Sanches in a central midfield that would not be out of place in senior internationals. He provides the grit whilst Sanches gives the flair. A product of Port’s talent factory, he will be using this tournament to secure himself a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs.

Joel Asoro (Sweden)

18 year old Joel Asoro signed for Sunderland in 2018 and made just one appearance for the relegated side. The rapid forward is one of the first names on the teamsheet for the reigning European U21 Champions. Asoro led Sunderland to the 2016–17 Premier League International Cup Final and Arsenal have recently been tracking the youngster to reinforce their own U23 side.

Andrija Zivkovic (Serbia)

The winger is the youngest player ever to make an appearance for Serbia, aged just 17 years and 3 months. Joined Benfica last summer. Most of Europe have reportedly been monitoring the teenager, who is technically gifted and a talented dribbler. Predictably nicknamed the “Serbian Messi”.

Krystian Bielik (Poland)

The Arsenal youngster will be monitored throughout the tournament by the clubs scouts. The hosts fancy their chances at this years tournament, and a lot is expected of the powerful holding midfielder who joined the club for £2.7m in January 2015. A good performance could see him parachuted into the Arsenal 1st team squad next season.

Rob Holding and Calum Chambers (England)

The Arsenal pair are set to partner each other in the middle of England’s defence. It will be interesting to watch how they perform alongside each other for the future of the club.