A succession of injury problems in defence in recent weeks has seen Rob Holding thrust into action for Arsenal, having struggled for regular game time earlier in the season, and Unai Emery has challenged the young centre back to compete for a regular place in his team.
Holding was handed his first start of the season during Arsenal’s Europa League opener at home to Vorskla Poltava before being brought on for the injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos to make his first Premier League appearance of the season in the 2-0 win against Everton.
Rob Holding has put in a very decent shift having come on for Sokratis.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) September 23, 2018
The 23-year-old looks set to start as Arsenal host Brentford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, and Emery has called on the defender to impress. The Spaniard said, via Londonfootballnews.co.uk: “We need every player when chances and opportunities are coming, because we need to also take more players to play.
“Like on Sunday, for example, after Sokratis’ injury it was important how Rob played and helped the team to find the performance to win against Everton.
Kolasinac and Jenkinson now back full training - Mavropanos out for four weeks with groin injury. Sokratis to be assessed ahead of tomorrow night (can't imagine he would play even if fit).— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) September 25, 2018
“This match against Brentford is also a good opportunity for Rob to continue taking confidence, taking minutes and taking also our ideas of playing with minutes.
“I want to look at him also with our best performance and for him to stay in first XI.”
Holding’s run in the Arsenal team comes amid a flurry of defensive injuries for Emery to contend with, as Sokratis’ injury on Sunday added to a list which also features Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac and Konstantinos Mavropanos on the sidelines.
Shkodran Mustafi has also struggled to perform consistently for the Gunners this term, with a number of mistakes calling his place in Emery’s starting lineup into question, further strengthening Holding’s chances of staking his claim for a more regular place in the coming weeks.