Rob Holding: back to his best? 

Rob Holding was looking to be on his way out of Arsenal, before a centre-back injury crisis allowed him a starting place in the Premier League season opener at Craven Cottage. 

Holding had been linked with a loan move to Newcastle United in recent weeks especially with Arsenal’s stockpiling of centre-backs, including new arrivals of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhães. The Gunners injury list, which consists mainly of defenders include; David Luiz, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers, Shkodran and Sokratis, has allowed Holding to step up and impress Mikel Arteta, starting both the FA Cup and Community Shield Finals, prompting Arteta to rethink his squad plans. 

Bolton Wanderers gave Holding his first professional contract, before Bury FC gave him his senior debutHolding moved to Arsenal in 2016, making 80 appearances and scoring two goals. His time at Arsenal has been rather inconsistent, picking up injuries and dropping in and out of the team. Holding ruptured his cruciate ligament at Old Trafford in 2018 which kept him out for eight months. The injury came at a very unfortunate time for Holding, as he was in strong form for the Gunners, and pushing a regular starting place. 

Since his arrival at the club, the defender has won two FA Cups and two Community Shields, in what can only be described as a successful spell so far. 

Holding has stood out since Arteta’s arrival in December 2019, with his attacking strengths and confidence of the ball benefitting from Arteta’s counter attacking style and willingness to play out from the back. Nicknamed “Robaldinho” after his forward strides at Craven Cottage, starting the move which won Arsenal a corner, and Gabriel’s debut goal. 

His performance against Fulham certainly impressed Arteta, with the Arsenal manager telling BT Sport, “I told him ‘change your mind, you’re not going anywhere”. Holding’s performances in recent weeks, and since his debut for Arsenal has certainly earned him the right to be one of the starting centre backs for the club, and could be part of the long term defence for Arsenal under Arteta.