Tag Archives: rob holding

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.



Europa League good for Arsenal’s future?

Sometimes to take a step forward you need to take a step back. And in a weird quirk, Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League could be turned into a positive for the future.

With Petr Cech unlikely to leave this summer, qualifying for the Europa League could create a situation where we could now purchase a top young keeper – such as Jordan Pickford – and have enough games for both to keep them satisfied.

Someone like Pickford is clearly a talented young keeper, but there is a big difference between making 10 saves in a game and conceding 3 goals, and being man of the match for keeping the score down, and doing nothing all game, and having to make a 90th minute save to keep the team ahead.

With the Europa League, we could sign Jordan Pickford and play him as understudy to Petr Cech. He would learn off the goalkeeping legend on the training ground, and he would get plenty of game time over the next year in the cups.

You would play Pickford in all 3 cup competitions – a potential of 14 Europa League games, 6 in the FA Cup and 6 more in the League Cup. That would be 26 in total if we make every final.

Now realistically, we will not make every final, but you would still expect there to be enough games in all 3 competitions to have Pickford play a dozen or more games.

By the time the 2017/18 season is over, Pickford would have grown as a keeper, be settled at the club, and have been fully analysed by the club staff to establish he has the mental strength to play for Arsenal. Qualifying for the Europa League will give him the game time needed to develop.

Game time will also be very important next year for the likes of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.

Chambers looked good whilst on loan at Middlesbrough, playing in his preferred position of centre back. If Arsenal continue with 3 at the back, long term Chambers would be an excellent option for the right if that 3, but he needs to keep playing games.

Last season he stagnated due to lack of game time. Europa League (and the League Cup) would give him nearly 10 up until Christmas. It will keep him sharp and continue his develop. It would also allow him to build up a relationship with Rob Holding inside him.

Rob Holding has been given a lot of praise since breaking through due at the back end of the season, and he deserves that hype. But he is still young, he is still raw, and he still has mistakes in him. He was caught twice by Diego Costa in the FA Cup Final, one of which led to Chelsea’s equaliser.

He needs to be given time to develop, and whilst he has been excellent, he is probably not ready to start week in, week out in a title chasing side. But the flip side is he needs games to continue his development.

3 months ago I would have written a blog about how Rob Holding could do with going on loan next season. Like Chambers, he desperately needed games and with Arsenal playing 2 at the back, there were too many ahead of him. A move to 3 at the back, coupled with his own performances, means he has now had some more game time, and is too valuable to the squad to send on loan for 38 games.

The happy medium will be for him to start in the middle of a back 3 in the Europa League and League Cup, whilst being the first change if Laurent Koscileny or Shkodran Mustafi pick up an injury in the Premier League.

There will some now criticising this blog saying that Rob Holding should start every game next season. Let’s lay off him and give him the chance to develop. Mustafi Koscileny Monreal is our strongest defence, but Holding is knocking on the door. And the Europa League could help him knock that door down.

Other youngsters will also benefit from being in the Europa League.

Alex Iwobi has dropped out of contention in the Arsenal starting XI this season. In my opinion, he was played too much when clearly out of form in the first half of the season. He is barely 21 and should be handed a staring role behind the striker in the Europa League.

The extra games, and confidence, he would get from playing in the lesser competition will keep him sharp and ready if the top boys are out injured. He could be the star of the Europa League.

Alongside Iwobi, the Europa League will give a big chance to the likes of Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock and forgotten man Gedion Zelalem to show they are good enough for the long term at Arsenal. It would also be good to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles got more of a run out.

Finally, the early rounds of the Europa League at least would be good for any potential young striker in the squad. Whether it be a chance for Chuba Akpom finally, or if Arsenal make a move for Henry Onyekuru, 10-or so games in the Europa League and League Cup will do wonders. Remember it is the competition Harry Kane used as his break through a few years ago.

Arsenal should take the Europa League seriously. But especially in the first half of the season, and potentially up until the quarter-finals, Arsenal could play a seriously rotated squad, meaning the regular starting XI get mid weeks off, and some of our most talented youngsters get game time.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and if the Europa League means we end up with Jordan Pickford, and see Chambers and Holding turn into the England internationals they are destined to be, than taking a step back into the competition could be great for Arsenal’s future.


Arsenal facing FA Cup Final defensive crisis

Laurent Koscileny – OUT – Suspended after his red card against Everton on the last day of the season. A pointless challenge in a pointless game that could have cost us the cup. Idiot.

Gabriel – OUT – Was carried off against Everton on a stretcher. Has done his knee ligaments. Will be out for at least 8 weeks.

Calum Chambers – OUT – Cup tied having played for Middlesbrough in 2 FA Cup ties. Had he not played in those games, he would have been free to play, with his loan being over.

Shkodran Mustafi – HIGHLY DOUBTFUL – Missed the Everton game with concussion, we are at the liberty of the doctors and he will not play until he has fully recovered. Unbelievable there are idiots out there who think Mustafi should play through his illness. Player safety is more important than a trophy.

Kieran Gibbs – DOUBTFUL – Has a slight thigh strain. Yet to train this week, but Arsenal might need to risk his fitness.

Mathieu Debuchy – OUT – Been AWOL since he picked up a hamstring injury way back in November against Bournemouth.

Carl Jenkinson – OUT – Most recently spotted playing polo on Shergar with Lord Lucan and Elvis Presley.

So what does that leave Arsenal with? Not very much.

Best case scenario, Mustafi and Gibbs return, we stick with 3 at the back:

Holding Mustafi Monreal

Bellerin                                                 Gibbs

Worst case scenario, Mustafi and Gibbs are out, we return to 4 at the back:

Bellerin Holding Mertesacker Gibbs

Likely scenario, Mustafi OUT, Gibbs Plays, we stick with 3 at the back:

Holding Mertesacker Monreal

Bellerin                                                 Gibbs

Less likely scenario, Mustafy plays, Gibbs OUT, we stick to 3 at the back

Mustafi Mertesacker Holding

Bellerin                                                 Monreal

No matter the scenario, Laurent Koscileny, as a senior player, has let the club down badly.