Defensive B-Movie: Is Holding The Hero To The Rescue?

In years gone by, tomorrow’s tagline was “the title decider”. Now, it’s “who’s left mired in mid-table?”

Then again, in years gone by, tomorrow never exists; Arsenal’s trip to Manchester United put the ‘Super’ into Sunday. Mind you, that popped into my head voiced by David Harris-Jones.

Anyway, hard times means Monday Night Football which is as much of a blight on the fixture list as its’ Thursday Night equivalent.

Some hint of where Monday’s team selection is headed came from Hector Bellerin’s appearance for the Under-23s in the 2 – 2 draw with Liverpool. A start against Standard Liege on Thursday should see the Spaniard ready for a Premier League return.

Kieran Tierney is ahead of him. Like Rob Holding, he no longer features in injury updates and both started against Forest. Is that enough for the Premier League? I think so.

Is it enough for Old Trafford, for a match we must win? It has to be, even if we’d prefer them to be facing Bournemouth and then United away. Life doesn’t work out that conveniently.

However, will Emery put both in? My guess is that he won’t; it’s too much disruption to the defence in too big a match. Tierney is the likeliest, in my view, to start. Emery (sort of) reinforced that:

After eight or nine months out, it’s a long time, and to recover he needs first to take it bit by bit, to take ­confidence, to get back to the performance levels we demand.

Emery on Holding

Emery isn’t too demanding as the Keystone Kops continued selection proves.

But in christening Sideshow Bob and Sokratis, the biggest problem facing Unai Emery surfaces. Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s a b-movie we’d rather not see again but are transfixed when they appear.

Creatures from the Red & White Lagoon

However, the importance of Holding to the squad and to fans is keenly understood by Emery.

On Tuesday, I thought, ‘Wow! He’s coming, Rob Holding’. I don’t know if he is going to start at Old Trafford, but I want from him his spirit, his behaviour and commitment.

He really feels Arsenal ­Football Club and I want ­players like him in the dressing room. Last year, Rob started training and playing with us and he progressed a lot.

Not considered captain-material though…

It’s not hard to see why Holding resonates with fans. In the tales of heroism from the club’s past, the towering central defender – the colossus – is always a central figure. It’s not harsh to say that since the Invincibles, we haven’t had that presence.

Quite a few made promising starts but all flattered to deceive. And for a club built on solid defensive foundations, that isn’t good enough.

Whether Holding can make the difference is another matter. Can one man do that, cancel out the innate stupidity of his colleagues? I don’t know.

It shows how much he and Calum Chambers developed during their year out of the first-team that there is a strong case for claiming the pair are the best centre-backs at the club.

Amazing what injury and a year on loan playing in the defensive midfield role can do for you, eh?

There is no stretch in claiming Monday might be the last appearance in the Premier League for the Kops, as well as both Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac. That is a ‘wow’ factor but not in the right sense; it’s pretty mind-blowing.

Injuries and suspensions will change that as the season progresses, I’m sure. What is important is that they force Emery into making decisions for the right reasons and not because of mistakes.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Defensive B-Movie: Is Holding The Hero To The Rescue?

  1. Michael says:

    The times I have thought we could beat Utd at their place, yet contrived to lose, perhaps Monday will be different, although I have my doubts

  2. jonnygunner says:

    Good morning all Gooners from a very beautiful Northumberland…what a place.

  3. consolsbob says:

    What have you been drinking, jonny?

  4. jonnygunner says:


    Start on white wine….then a glass or two of Shiraz …then a whiskey(Irish for me) to finish off…
    But today we’re off to a lovely pub in low Newton (right near the beach)…I’ll be having a pint there(real ale for me-not disco juice).
    Really beautiful here Bob

  5. Noon Gunner says:

    Thanks, YW – another great little plate of food for thought. You remind me that while there are myriad switches of fortune in the course of a season, it’s more interesting to study what the longer wave changes are, occuring while we fans fret over the shortwave turbulence.

    I see the emergence of an athletic, capable young defensive core as one of those long waves that could have us in a welcome new reality by season end…and one could say exactly the same about our midfield, despite Xhaka’s arm candy. Add in another window in January and we could be very differently tuned by the time we need to secure our top4 place in April/May.

  6. Las says:

    Good day! Thanks for the post YW. Food for thought.
    Recent times we just weren’t able to beat ManU fair and square. Even under the lamest MU manager when they were there for taking… no, we just not beat them. So I am cautiously pessimistic. With Xhaka, Bob and Papa all playing I would feel that we will be there for taking. I understand the season is long and we need the trio of Bellerin, Kieran, Holding for the long run but the midfield has to be stronger, tighter, more protective and less xhaka. I try, I really try to beleive that Emery is learning and adopting. It’s hard to cope that I have no effect on team selection.

  7. C says:

    I feel for Emery only because so much of his philosophy is based on wingers and FB’s with the midfied controlling the match yet, Belling has been put and Chambers nor Maitland-Niles are a genuine RB. Sead is a pure attacking FB but has grown defensively. People forget that part of our run last season, we had fit FB’s who were massive and our midfield stitched it all together with Ozil playing more indirectly that direct assist provider.

    Lets see what happens with proper FB’s (including Sead) along with the midfield. Torriera was key too for his industry and ability to find a quick ball forward.

  8. C says:

    Read a couple articles roday about how the Celtic manager compared van Dijk and Tierney in their ability to read danger but also the calm. More interesting was how Tierney played LB and CB.

  9. Paulie Walnuts says:

    I don’t see any changes defensively tomorrow night. AMN extra pace will be handy if James starts & surely there will be some mental scars for Holding to overcome as his serious injury occurred at OT.

    Maybe Tierney will be included but I believe he’ll be on the bench too.

    I’m not too optimistic as we’re poor away from home right now & have an atrocious record there , but if we can start well we’ve got the firepower to give them problems.

  10. Blue Yonder says:

    It’s asking a lot for both Holding and Tierney to carry the defence and I’m a bit worried about their ability to handle Old Trafford at this early stage of post-injury. I think we should be good for at least a couple of goals but also think Sok and Bob will be good for a couple, too. So, a draw, perhaps. And no injuries.

  11. consolsbob says:


    Your drinking habits are very similar to mine. Tell me, do you favour the new ‘lighter bitters’ these days over the amber ones of our distant youths?

  12. C says:

    And on some positive futboling news, I know most won’t care or follow Santi post-Arsenal vut he has been nothing short of brilliant this season. His form and fitness has returned and its great to see him smiling and enjoying futbol again. 4 goals, 3 assists and dictating play, has always been a joy to watch.

  13. Las says:


    I am happy to see him playing again. He was my favorite player from late Wenger time. His unfortunate injury really hurt us. With Cazorla playing we were a different beast.

  14. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Well not entirely, teams figured out that if you put a man on Santi and Ozil we were nullified. Or have you all forgotten this fact, prior to his long injury spell? We’ve always been screaming out of that Viera/Kante type midfielder. Viera has been our biggest loss. We’ve never replaced him. I think with Laca and Auba it’s a return of the good old days of Henry, Anelka, Wiltord and co. in an attacking sense. We’ve got goals about us. But without that steel in midfield. Also missing a Petit, type player, who worked wonders with Viera.

  15. Dukey says:

    Who will win the boom race today??

    Not Jonny if he’s on an extended weekend away with the missus.

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