Arsenal manager Unai Emery wants Rob Holding to prove his worth against Brentford in the Carabao Cup to earn a permanent place in the starting line-up. Emery challenged Holding to take advantage of Sokratis’s absence from the squad due to injury, and turn it into a game changer for himself.
The 23-year-old came on for just his second appearance this season in place of Sokratis, who limped off the field with a minor knee injury and has been ruled out for the next match against the Bees at home.
Holding didn’t do enough to stand out of the crowd to be applauded though, but did just enough to catch the attention of Emery and enough to be given a second chance to start, given the fact that it was only his second game of the campaign. Holding was confident in himself, which helped him a lot throughout the match but also led to him making a lot of open-ended mistakes.
The center-back, who had been behind Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis until now, has been granted a golden opportunity to challenge the other two for a permanent spot in the starting line up. When asked if he feels fit for the match, the youngster replied:
“That’s something that you obviously only get with matches, so it’s something I’ve had to work on in training, and before the international break the boss pulled me in and said ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, the games are coming thick and fast now.’
“So I just had to be ready mentally and physically, and I’ve been fine in both games, so I look forward to it.”
Arsenal had already leaked nine goals in the last five Premier League games of the season before Everton came to the Emirates, and hence, there was a huge pressure on the players to get their first clean sheet of the season. When asked how desperate the squad were to keep a clean sheet, Holding said:
“Yeah, we’ve obviously conceded in each game so the clean sheet is a big boost for us and that was the target for the last few games, to keep a clean sheet!
“It’s good to get that off our back now and we can push on for the rest of the season.”
As reported by Sky Sports, when asked about Holding, Emery seemed pretty optimistic for the Englishman’s future, saying:
“We need every player when chances and opportunities are coming because we need to also take more players to play.
“Like on Sunday, for example, after Sokratis’ injury, it was important how Rob played and helped the team to find the performance to win against Everton.
“This match against Brentford is also a good opportunity for Rob to continue taking confidence, taking minutes and taking also our ideas of playing with minutes.
“I want to look at him also with our best performance and for him to stay in the first XI.”
Arsenal, who were beaten by Manchester City in last season’s Carabao Cup final, see this as an opportunity to jump back and secure their first silverware under the reign of Unai Emery.
“For us, every competition is important and also this is one that we can play and find our way towards this title,” said the Spaniard.
“Also we can give players chances to play, chances to take confidence and minutes in the game.
“Also for us, the performance in this competition is to improve things and above all to think in one title and one way for the first match against Brentford.
“Every competition there is one important thing – for us it is the opportunity to do well in this competition, looking forward to the title looking to ask the players for this performance.
“One possibility is to give the players who are playing less in one competition to take minutes and this responsibility going forward.”
The Gunners have now won five games in a row in all competitions after initially struggling to adapt to Emery’s style of play. The team looks much more stable and under control than it was during the beginning of the season. It just might be a matter of time before we see our beloved Arsenal in it’s old, invincible form.