Arsenal traveled to St. Jakob-Park on Tuesday evening to face FC Basel – a side that traditionally does well against English opposition. The Gunners traveled in high spirits after their 5-1 victory over West Ham United on Saturday and knew a win would give them a chance of finishing top of the group.
PSG slipped up at home to Ludogorets managing just a point at the Parc Des Princes which ensured the Gunners topped their group after a comfortable 4-1 win, remaining unbeaten in the Champions League group stages with the last time Arsene Wenger’s men managing that they went all the way to the final.
Although all 11 Arsenal players were good, there was one performer that impressed many, that man being England u-21 international Rob Holding, who was making his Champions League debut.
Holding was given the nod ahead of Shkodran Mustafi who was rightly rested ahead of a busy Christmas period, and the young gun did not disappoint in an influential performance.
Partnered next to Laurent Koscielny, Holding was winning balls in the air, challenging for the ball and being a real rock at the back in a very impressive display. Holding managed three tackles on his European debut which was the joint best amongst other players.
As well as being impressive in tackles, Holding was also exceptional at reading the game, his professionalism and awareness for someone so premature in his career is prodigious with the Arsenal youngster making three interceptions and five clearances.
Another trait which Holding possesses with large amounts of confidence is his passing. It is as if he has already inherited the Arsenal DNA in which he patrols the ball and oozes confidence. The centre-back made 69 passes against Basel managing a 92.8% pass completion which just shows how comfortable he is on the ball.
His understanding with Koscielny was remarkable, they formed an excellent partnership this evening and Holding did not look out of place at all. Whilst dealing with his defensive duties with his French teammate, he also managed one key pass and had one shot on the offensive side of his performance.
The performance was excellent, Arsene Wenger will be delighted with his summer signing and the heaps of praise the youngster is receiving is fully deserved. We take a look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, with some fans very, very impressed.
I'm not one to jump the gun but Rob Holding is definitely the best defender of all time.
— Paddy (@VieiraPaddy) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding looks like a gem. So cool and calm with the ball, looks fearless. Having Koscielny besides you is always a good thing.
— Sir Jenkinson (@theEpicGooner) December 6, 2016
What a talent we have in Rob Holding
— renato (@rehnato) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding is class
— MC (@mediocentroEN) December 6, 2016
I simply love Rob Holding. Great defender now and for sure in the future ❤
— BFA !! (@FlertZuka) December 6, 2016
John Stones is a poor man's Rob Holding. #ARS
— Louis Young (@LouisYoung13) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding is going to be some defender if he stays focused. You can tell he's focused on constant improvement. Next big England defender?
— Liam Witt (@LiamWitt_) December 6, 2016
Holding carries himself like a Rolls Royce at centre-back. Classy.
— Pablo (@AFCAMDEN) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding was once again impressive, good with both feet and has great awareness, what a talent we have.
— Chris (@Gooner_DB) December 6, 2016
It already seems as if Holding has won the hearts of many Gunners fans after his immense debut performance in the Champions League. Arsenal signed the talented defender for just £2 million in the summer which in this day and age is an absolute bargain as Arsene Wenger seems to have found another gem. This was certainly a performance of intent and with such high quality it may give Arsene Wenger a selection headache over a busy Christmas period, but the good news is he knows he can trust his squad players to make an impact for the team. At just 21-years-old he is already showing signs of becoming a great defender, and in the future, he could certainly become a very important player for Arsenal, and who knows, maybe for England.