Rob Holding says Jens Lehmann has made a big difference on the training ground, helping him to tap into his aggressive side and push for first-team starts.
Holding told Sport360 that the former Gunner’s return to the club was just what he needed for his development.
“Jens has been a big difference since he’s come in,” he said. “He’s very demanding and not afraid to get down and dirty with you. He’ll get at you and I’ll have a little snap back.
“But then after training we’ll speak about it and we’ll come to an agreement on what went on and then the next day it’s like nothing happened.
“There’s no grudges held and it’s what I think is the key to getting the best out of me. You’re more aggressive and more demanding as a consequence and that’s what I need to be as a centre-half.”
The young defender says he thinks he’s starting to see improvements in his game on the pitch, and he thinks manager Arsene Wenger is as well. He didn’t have the strongest start to the campaign, but he’s playing well again now.
At this point Holding just wants to stay on the heels of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, ready to take their place whenever they slip up.
“I’d say the first half of the season was a bit in and out, with the cup competitions,” he said. “Then since late January it’s been a real knuckle down, cracking on with it and doing what I need to do. The manager’s noticing it and against Watford I felt like I had a really good, solid game.
“He knows that I’m there, pushing. Any little mistakes from Koscielny and Mustafi or slight injuries, I want to be the first one that he’s looking to.
“I think I’ve improved on things like heading, defending crosses, things like that and being more physical.”
That sort of competition is just what you want, particularly in an area where your first-team are struggling. If Koscielny and Mustafi know Wenger will drop them for Holding if they don’t improve, it’ll help push them to play their best football. Either that or the manager really will drop them.
The end of the season will probably give Holding a few more chances to prove himself in the league. The first-choice side need to focus on Europe, so the 22-year-old can give them some rest domestically.
Hopefully he can put all of those constructive training sessions into action.