Rob Holding started his third successive Premier League fixture on Saturday against Mark Hughes’ Stoke side and went from strength-to-strength with his defensive display.

His spatial awareness and bravery were key to another impressive display alongside two more experienced centre-backs against a tough Stoke side, who only provided significant threat in the second-half.

Marko Arnautovic’s trickery proved too much to handle on one occasion just before the hour mark, as illustrated by screenshots taken below.

holding ss
As you can see from this screenshot, Holding attempted to remain tight when defending Arnautovic, as the Austrian winger edged closer towards goal.
holding ss2
But as you can see here, Arnautovic spotted Holding’s position and span the opposite direction to take advantage before racing goalwards, creating an opportunity in the process. Luckily, the young Englishman showed restraint to avoid committing a needless challenge inside the box.

Although it’s harsh to criticise specific moments like these, this experience will prove invaluable in future.

Just like his triple defensive contribution which proved futile before Stoke’s ‘goal’. Having won an aerial battle with Peter Crouch, two clean but firm challenges on Geoff Cameron saw the ball bounce awkwardly to Glenn Whelan. Seconds later the aforementioned Crouch halved the deficit with a handball finish from close-range, but it was Holding’s bravery and defensive ability which stood out on this occasion.

Holding again highlighted just how comfortable he is in possession of the ball. Having effortlessly side-stepped Crouch and Erik Pieters, he ran down the right flank before passing towards Hector Bellerín. Seconds later, Alexis Sánchez slammed low and hard into the bottom corner to help regain Arsenal’s two-goal cushion.

Rob Holding, you know. He’s better than Cannavaro!

Yes, this represents early hype and huge expectation on his shoulders but the fact that Holding has a song reiterates how important he has proven to be when given a chance to play since his £2m move from Bolton last summer.

Already a fan favourite in north London, it’s clear that he has a bright future ahead of him and it’s one that many supporters cannot wait to see blossom.

Who can blame them with performances like this one?

His individual match statistics (source: WhoScored):

  • 89 touches, third highest on the pitch
  • 68 completed passes
  • 82.4% accuracy
  • 1 tackle
  • 3 interceptions
  • 5 clearances
  • 6 aerial duels won
  • 2 fouls committed