Arsenal fans are baffled as to why Rob Holding can’t get a Premier League minute in this defense, but it seems pretty obvious from Mikel Arteta’s tendencies.
Arsenal‘s defense continues to be the subject of intense scrutiny after a depressing loss to Tottenham. While Mikel Arteta‘s resurgent defensive philosophy has proven brilliant at times, particularly against Wolverhampton, Sheffield, the majority of Leicester, and more, the whole “what have you done for me lately?” isn’t checking out.
Especially with Rob Holding on the bench. Holding surged into the limelight again with a couple of appearances after the break and proved that he’s in much better shape than we might have thought.
Since then, he has disappeared and failed to see the light again, with Sokratis looking the preferred option if defensive help is needed.
Meanwhile, David Luiz continues to be David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac continues to not be a centerback and Shkodran Mustafi remains the best of the bunch. So why can’t Holding get a look?
I have an idea.
Mikel Arteta is very specific about who he starts where and for the defense, since we are playing out of the back (or at least attempting to). It really seems like he is putting an excessively heavy influence on the dominant foot, because that’s the only reason I can think of that would keep Kolasinac ahead of Holding. Especially considering Kolasinac isn’t even a centerback. He’s a leftback. And more a left wingback, really.
The other alternative would be to have him start over Mustafi, which I realize some may be in favor of, but like it or not, Mustafi has been quite good outside of Tottenham. He’s been our best defender and I don’t question why Arteta would prefer to keep the German in there.
And David Luiz? Well, he’s the centerpiece holding it all together. Which is terrifying, but also why Holding isn’t replacing him—Holding isn’t the kind of guy who can sit centrally and command the defense. Honestly, Luiz isn’t either, but he’s got more experience.
Whatever the case, it’s all so scientific, and when you keep seeing the same kinds of mistakes from Luiz and Kolasinac especially, it’s time to break from the science and embrace something else. Anything else.
As for Mustafi though, back off. He’s been doing quite good. If Holding is going to replace anyone, it shouldn’t be at the expense of Mustafi.