Baptism of fire.
When Rob Holding lined up against Liverpool, he was probably very excited, but alongside another inexperienced presence in Calum Chambers, it was a recipe for disaster.
Arsenal fans were worried heading into this fixture: Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel all out.
Of course, aged just 20, there is plenty of time for Holding to grow and mature into a top level defender, but right now it is too much to expect him, alongside another young defender, to perform at the highest level against a team of Liverpool’s calibre.
Stat of the Match: Despite conceding four goals, defensive pairing Chambers (8) and Holding (7) won 15 aerial duels between them against Liverpool.
Holding’s pass accuracy wasn’t the best for an Arsenal defender at 74%, he’ll have to develop more consistency and reliability in his passing to become a mainstay in the Gunners back four. Holding made 2 interceptions and 2 blocks, crucially he gave away 1 foul which led to Liverpool’s first goal, but the referee was incredibly harsh to award Holding’s touch-tight defending as a foul.
Despite conceding four goals, many Arsenal fans felt that individually, Holding’s performance was not too bad. Here’s a brief overview of how Arsenal fans have reacted to Holding’s performance on Twitter.
Rob Holding. From Bolton, who were relegated from the Championship, to opening day starter for Arsenal. Alongside Chambers!
— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) August 14, 2016
The issue wasn’t not playing Koscielny it was not playing Monreal at LCB and Gibbs LB. Holding isn’t good enough for Arsenal right now
— Sach (@SarriesKid10) August 15, 2016
Watching the game yesterday i felt for Holding but Chambers should be better. Obviously not good enough and should be sold. #Arsenal
— Steve (@goonersteve12) August 15, 2016
Yes, we may have conceded 4(never ideal) but that’s down to team shape & organisation. Holding looks good though, will get a lot better.
— Satish (@FabulousArsenal) August 14, 2016
It appears that in general, Arsenal fans feel Holding was better than his partner Chambers. Due to Holding’s age and the fact that he has just arrived at the club, many appear to (rightly) be willing to cut him some slack, whilst also acknowledging the club do need to bring in a more experienced defensive presence.
As the fans pointed out, Holding was not helped by Arsenal’s defensive shape. In the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Gunners midfield completely abandoned defensive responsibility, in particular Mohammed Elneny and Francis Coquelin were caught out of position too often and that only piled more pressure on an inexperienced defensive pairing.
Arsenal fans will be hoping that Wenger can make a defensive signing early in the week so that Chambers and Holding do not line up alongside each other against Champions Leicester City on Saturday.