Tag Archives: rob holding

In a team that lacks leaders, one Arsenal player is rising above the rest

We were told he was a bad influence, a trouble marker.

Someone more interested in fast cars, flash clothes and disappearing to Milan, Paris or wherever the party was. Not interested in being a team man, he was more interested in hanging out with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and various pop stars and models.

It was all lies created by journalists who looked at a young black sport star who likes his fast cars, liked his clothes and jewellery, and decided to label him as flash without actually knowing him.

What Arsenal actually signed in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the most lethal strikers in Europe who is humble and currently the epicentre of everything that is positive at Arsenal.

He leads the line and leads the team. He is the joker, the star player, the match winner.

It was Aubameyang who looked after then teenager Matteo Guendouzi when he came to England, unable to speak English.

It is Aubameyang who is helping Nicolas Pepe settle into London – giving him a penalty to get him off his goal duck.

It is Aubameyang that is uniting the squad. It is Aubameyang who should be club captain.

Aubameyang unites a lot of the factions within the club.

Born in France, he is close with Alexandre Lacazette and Guendouzi., and more recently included Pepe into the fold. He is already building a relationship up with William Saliba – both players having spent time at Saint-Etienne.

Having also spent 5 years in Germany for Borussia Dortmund, he also crosses over with the German speakers – Bernd Leno, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolašinac.

It was a mixture of French and German players who were pictured last season doing a few balloon’s in a London nightclub. You can bet your money that it was Aubameyang who was at the centre of the antics.

So here we have a superstar of a player. A colossus on the pitch, but clearly influential off it.

Aubameyang realises he is a senior pro and has taken young new recruits under his wing, helping them settle. There is no ego. No making the youngsters feel they are inadequate or undeserving.

Unai Emery should drop this “we have 5 captains” rubbish and install Aubameyang as the clubs captain. It is something that would every single fan would get behind. Would back.

Vice-captain should be Hector Bellerin.

The Spanish right back has been at the club for nearly a decade  and was influential in the recruitment of Dani Ceballos.

Bellerin knows what it means to play for The Arsenal. He knows what it represents.

He is also important when it comes to our Latino contingent – Ceballos, Lucas Torreira and Emiliano Martínez; And with his Spanish-Cockney accent he can cross over with the British lads.

Recent reports were that Bellerin and Kieran Tiernay had built up a bit of a bromance as they recovered from injury at a similar pace.

Arsenal have a mid-week team as well – playing in the Europa League and League Cup.

The majority of that team will be made up of bright young English talents. The likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson. I also expect Rob Holding to play a part in almost every game as he returns slowly from his learn term injury.

Holding should be given the armband for the mid-week squad, allowing him to develop as a leader of the defence.

Aubameyang as captain, Bellerin as vice-captain. Holding captaining the mid-week team.

I think that is something that we can all get behind.

Keenos

Unai Emery’s developing a new “British Core” at The Arsenal

December 2012, London was floating in a post-Olympic boom. Arsenal announced new contracts for 5 young British players.

Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as signed a new contract on the same day (in front of the cameras at least). The message was clear.

After years of Arsenal being the foreign legion of English football; the future was English (and Welsh, like the cricket team). Theo Walcott made it a Dirty Dozen of talented players under 25-years-old.

The success for Arsenal based on the British core; and success for England would surely be built around 5 of the 6 players.

Roll forward to 2019 and, with Aaron Ramsey set to leave on a free transfer, only one man remains. Carl Jenkinson. I wonder what odds you would have got back in 2012 that the former Charlton trainee would outlast his more talented colleagues.

In the cup competitions this season, the League Cup, Europa League and last weekend in the FA Cup, Unai Emery has given a whole host of young players a chance.

It may still be early, but Emery is developing his own British Core.

Emery inherited two first team British players in Rob Holding and Alex Iwobi.

Prior to his injury, Holding was Arsenal’s most improved player this season. He has been sorely missed since his injury, testament to his development. He has put himself into contention to be long term first choice centre back. The talk amongst many is that we now need to buy Holding a partner. We no longer need to buy two starting central defenders.

Whilst he now plays for Nigeria, the country of his birth, Iwobi is certainly British.

Born in Lagos, he moves to London at the age of 4. Now 22, he has spent 18 years in the capital. His London twang and swagger. He is as much a Londoner as he is a Nigerian. He has paved the way for the flood of further Londoners coming through.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has now been in and around the first team for a couple of seasons. In recent weeks he has shown his quality and utility. Playing left back, right back, central midfield and on the wing. Still just 21, he has a future for Arsenal and England as a James Milner-type utility man.

A whole host of other youngsters have also got game time in the cup competitions.

Eddie Nketiah was unlucky not to get a hat trick against Blackpool in the FA Cup. Anyone that has watched him at youth level would have been surprised by his misses. He is a clinical finisher.

With Danny Welbeck set to leave at the end of this season, expect Nketiah to lead the line in the cup competitions next season.

Whilst Nketiah missed his chances yesterday, Joe Willock scored two.

The youngster stalled last season, and struggled in his senior games. This season he has gone from strength to strength, and now has 3 goals in his 3 senior games.

He is developing into a box to box midfielder, becoming a very smart player able to get forward and back at speed. His ability to find space in the box reminds you of Aaron Ramsey. Should Arsenal replace the Welshman from within?

Currently returning from injury is Emile Smith Rowe. He has been the standout youngster of this season. A classy attacking player who can play in all 3 positions behind the front 3, he has a big future at Arsenal.

Dropping down an age group now is two very talented kids.

Bukayo Saka could be the best of the lot. Just 17-years-old, he has pace, power and technique.

Arsenal should consider sending him down a similar route as Reiss Nelson. A year in Germany getting plenty of game time, he would come back a different player. This lad is going to be quality.

Finally we have Zech Medley.

I have been frustrated that during Arsenal’s defensive injury crisis, Emery has gone for Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner in defence rather than give a chance to 18-year-old Medley.

Medley, like Nketiah, was on the books of Chelsea before joining Arsenal at 16-years-old. He looks to have it all.

A towering centre back, he showed bravery and strength in the air with one challenge against Blackpool. He pairs his height and power with fabulous ball playing ability. Alongside speed across the ground, he has it all to become a modern ball playing central defender.

To top it all off, he is left footed. A left sided central defender seems like the holy grail in the modern game.

He probably will not start challenging for the first team on a regular basis for another 2 and a half seasons – 2021/22. This might seem a long time away, but Medley would be barely 21-years-old.

Certainly one to leave in the box, playing youth team level and keep an eye on for the future.

Some of these lads might make it at Arsenal, some might not. One thing is for certain, however; they have all lived the dream playing for The Arsenal.

The highlight of 2018/19 so far has been watching so many local boys getting their chance.

Keenos

Arsenal’s Canavarro ready to become first team regular

The star of England’s World Cup campaign was Leicester City’s Harry Maguire.

A working mans hero who’s unassuming career took him from Sheffield to Hull, Leicester via Wigan. When you listen to him speak, he has no airs and graces about him. He was never destined to be the next big thing, never hyped up as a teenager.

And that comes across on the field as well.

He works hard, defends well, is not bothered about how he looks or how he plays, just that he plays well. That he wins the ball, clears the ball.

Whilst in England there has been a tendency to pine after a Rio Ferdinand type defender, someone who can bring the ball out of play, Maguire showed the importance of “defending first”.

John Stones is the player who was hyped up as a teenager, got his big money move to Manchester City, and has struggled since.

He is a defender who looks comfortable on the ball, and is certainly style over substance. The paid actually gel well for England.

What Maguire shows, and gives hope to others for, is that you do not need to quick, graceful and flashy when playing centre half. You just need to win the ball, and pass it on to someone else to be the creator. It is a simple but effective way of playing. Straight out of the school of Tony Adams and George Graham.

Rob Holding is this sort of centre back.

He is not quick, he is not graceful, he is not completely comfortable on the ball. But this does not mean he is not a good player.

Holding is strong, aggressive, good in the air. And still just 23-years old.

Arsenal have seen this year in Sokratis about how important it is for a defend to be able to defend first.

For years we have wanted defenders who can supposedly play. The likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers. But these players are flawed defensively.

In Sokratis and Holding we have two men who know what it means to defend.

Holding should be looking at Sokratis, looking Maguire. About how to keep it simple and effective. How you can become a top defender by defending.

He has now played 5 of the last 6 games for Arsenal, and there is an argument to be made, based on current form, that is should be Holding plus either Mustafi or Sokratis moving forward. Preferably the Greek man.

With Gareth Southgate seemingly speaking experimental England squads – the likes of Marcus Bettinelli, Lewis Dunk, Nathaniel Chalobah, Harry Winks, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho have been called up for the latest round of games – Holding must not be too far down the pecking order. As long as he continues getting game time and his current form.

Holding, like Maguire, is a simple player. But it is sticking to the simplicity that will make him a top player.

Keenos