Opinion: Should Rob Holding be afforded more game time at Arsenal?
Rob Holding has impressed at the centre of the Arsenal defence | Photo credit: Stuart MacFarlane

Opinion: Should Rob Holding be afforded more game time at Arsenal?

The former England U21 international has featured in Arsenal's last three league games.

tjwedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

After a busy summer transfer window in which there were significant ins and outs at Arsenal, a player who seemingly slipped under the radar was Rob Holding.

The ex-Bolton man was expected to leave the club on loan, but new boss Unai Emery opted to retain his services, while fellow centre back Calum Chambers joined Premier League side Fulham on loan.

After a string of promising displays, there have been calls for the 23-year-old to feature on a more full time basis in the Arsenal starting XI.

Has Holding seized his opportunity?

After an injury to summer addition Sokratis against Everton on 1st October, Holding was brought on in place of the Greek international.

Holding played his part in helping Arsenal keep their first clean sheet of the season. Slotting into a makeshift backline, the Englishman won the majority of individual battles and acquitted himself well in regards to playing out from the defensive third.

Holding then went onto start against Watford and more recently Fulham - doing his bit in a Gunners defence which conceded just one goal in both fixtures. Partnered with the much maligned Shkodran Mustafi, Holding played with a mature head and was often in the right place at the right time.

Standing at six feet and two inches, Holding is an imposing figure, evident by an impressive eight aerial duels won in the league so far this season, despite limited minutes.  Just two less than the aforementioned Sokratis, who has more than double Holding's Premier League minutes.

Outside of the league, Holding has also featured in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup, in winning efforts against FC Vorskla, Qarabag and Brentford, games in which you'd be hard pushed to single him out for criticism. 

Room to develop

Having joined Arsenal in the summer of 2016, Holding is familiar with Premier League football, and with an FA Cup medal to his name, has cup winning experience.

His first few games for the club gave the Arsenal faithful cause for optimism, having demonstrated his ability to play out from the back as well as a no nonsense attitude when engaging for possession. 

Despite a bright start, Holding then struggled to regain form. He made frequent errors and his lack of experience at the top level quickly became more noticeable. His disappointing form saw him mooted for a potential loan move, but those suggestions were quashed after an outstanding individual FA Cup final display, against a tricky opponent in the shape of Spain striker Diego Costa.

At 23 years of age Holding still has a lot of room for development, especially when his current position of centre back is taken into consideration. Working under new manager Emery could see him reach a new level, and with the jury still very much out on Mustafi, he has a chance to push for a regular first team place.

With Laurent Koscielny still nursing an Achilles injury, Arsenal's current centre back options are somewhat limited. After a series of promising performances, it might be time to see what Holding can do when given regular first team football.

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