Arsenal’s English defender, Rob Holding looks set to stay at Arsenal after manager Mikel Arteta pulled plug on his proposed loan move away. The young centre back looked set to seal a move to Tyneside with Newcastle United favorites to land him but things seem changed now.
Currently, Arsenal boast of plethora of centre backs; David Luiz, William Saliba, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and new boy, Gabriel. Seven centre backs look a bit too much to prosecute the season.
In terms of game time, there might be unhealthy rivalry in the absence of injury crisis while the wages of the players could be a huge burden on the club that has been looking for ways to reduce the wage bill.
Reports have it that Sokratis is close to a move away after Napoli signaled him as the man to fill the huge boots of Senegalese defender, Kalidou Koulibaly after he secures his move to Manchester City and that is a defender gone.
Calum Chambers who is currently recovering from ligament damage has also been linked with a return to Craven Cottage but seems interest is not as concrete. Should those two exit the club, the Gunners would still be left with five senior central defenders which might yet still be a bit too much for the club to have going into the season.
On a second thought, it makes sense that Arteta is opting to keep Holding. Out of the five central defenders left at the club (assuming Sokratis and Chambers leave), two are newbies and it would be a huge risk to expect so much from them right from the outset. They are in a new country, new team and new league which means they might need time to fully bed in. What is the right thing to do is to ease them in carefully.
In the past, Wenger would use Capital One Cup (now Carabao) to bed in his new signings. The expectations in that competition was low and there was room for them to make their errors without collateral damage to the club.
While Saliba and Gabriel are promising, they might need the experienced heads and shoulders of Luiz, Mustafi and Holding to lean on while they settle in. In the new season, Arsenal will be involved in four competitions; Premier League, Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, that is more than enough games to go round and keep everyone happy. The fact that Arsenal play in the Europa League, that means Arteta might have to juggle his team from Thursday to weekend.
Competition is good and the presence of these defenders might just create healthy rivalry amongst themselves. The highly rated duo of Saliba and Gabriel would keep the incumbent trio on their toes and that would play to the advantage of Arsenal with respect to performances and results on the field.
Former Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson once said that good attack wins matches but good defence wins title. With Arteta’s keen attention to defensive detail, Arsenal might be on the match to many more titles.