When the deal was initially announced, it was met with surprised eyebrows from supporters and critics alike.
Something which is usual when Arsenal sign a player for their first-team squad.
So with that in mind, Rob Holding’s debut was made all the more impressive considering he’d had little time to settle and featured against the likes of Didier Drogba and Sebastian Giovinco, both of whom are high-quality strikers in their own respective right.
Of course, it was a friendly and it’s important not to expect too much too soon, but his defensive display was not only encouraging – it was assured and convincing, something which suggests maturity beyond his years, a good sign that we’re planning for the future as well as the present with acquisitions.
He didn’t have too much to do in the first-half, largely due to his tactical awareness affording him enough time to make well-informed decisions when in possession. Looked comfortable and composed on the ball, he was defensively solid and couldn’t be blamed for a typical Arsenal-like defensive mishap just seconds before the half-time interval – especially when he made an excellent block to try and deny Drogba, who had three attempts before equalising in a goalmouth scramble.
With Per Mertesacker sidelined, it’s the perfect time for Wenger to dip into the transfer market and sign a high-quality defender to partner Laurent Koscielny at the back. Ignoring the rough diamond that is Gabriel, as well as the undoubtedly talented Calum Chambers, Holding himself will be eager for first-team minutes next season.
Considering he was Bolton’s best player in an otherwise forgettable campaign last term, he has already settled well and suits our style of play.
Reports continue to link us with a move for Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi as the new season edges closer, but from this performance alone, it shows that we’re well-equipped for the future.
Whether he’ll be given an extended opportunity in the first-team squad remains to be seen, but as a 20-year-old who has seen the youngsters breakthrough into the first-team in recent seasons, Holding will be enthusiastic about his chances.