Since his £2m move from Bolton Wanderers last summer, Rob Holding has settled into life in England’s top flight well when called upon.
The 21-year-old central defender, who is very much a highly-rated prospect for the future, has publicly revealed the fact he remains grounded despite success of late in a recent interview on the club’s official website.
When questioned about how he compares himself from six months ago to the present day, Holding was honest in his answer.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve changed much, I’m pretty much the same down-to-earth lad who has lived at home, moved and got on with the lads straight away,” Holding replied. “So it wasn’t like I had to change, everybody accepted me for who I am.”
The youngster has surprised many critics who were dubious about his arrival, especially given the level of depth at Arsène Wenger’s disposal in defence. Despite his impressive defensive displays though, he admitted family – especially his dad – have kept him grounded and avoid letting him get “carried away with anything”, which is refreshing to hear given the number of talented prospects that have failed to fully achieve their potential once the hype around them proves too much to handle.
“My dad and the rest of my family keeps me grounded and my dad’s definitely been a big influence. He took me everywhere that I needed to go and he watches every game.”
In terms of finding ways to improve his game, Holding has identified aggression and positional awareness as key components that are helping him to develop further as an assured defender who is both reliable and as comfortable as he is with the ball at his feet.
“I think that’s about demanding, demanding what you want in training,” Holding said. “If you’re just happy to accept what’s going on around you, maybe you don’t see that fight.”
“But if you want to be a winner, if you’re in a small-sided game and you’re demanding stuff off your team-mates to work that extra bit, to score that extra goal, I think that’s what the boss is saying.”
Holding has lost on two occasions in Arsenal colours since the start of the competitive season, on the opening day against Liverpool and during their EFL Cup quarter-final defeat against Southampton in late November.
“I just don’t like losing. I hate losing and I used to hate losing as a kid. Me and my cousin are similar ages and I think our players played us off against each other a bit at times. We were always ultra-competitive and wanted to win in what we were doing.”
Holding will be hoping to continue his development at London Colney and earn a regular starting berth in 2017, with competition for places in defence helping avoid complacency amongst the squad.