What can we expect from Rob Holding?


After wrapping up the long-awaited deal for England U21 international Rob Holding this week, many Arsenal fans have found themselves reading as much as they can about their new man. To find out more, the Gooner Ramble spoke to Bolton fan and blogger Chris Manning (@19manning83) to get some insight on what supporters can expect from Arsenal’s new number 16.

Having come up through the youth system at Bolton, was there much hype around Holding before last season? Or did his performances come a total surprise?

If you found a Bolton fan who said they knew about him, then they’d be lying. He was loaned to Bury the season before and only made one appearance for them. He was brought in out of necessity, as an emergency. It was completely out of the blue and fans soon fell in love with his swashbuckling style of play.

It’s quite a feat for a defender to win a Player of the Season award in the same season in which the team concedes 81 league goals – how did he manage to impress so much in a leaky defence?

It’s impossible to put into words just how much of a shining light he was. Though not perfect, and capable of some stinkers, his confidence and ability made him stand out from his debut onwards. He is quick, mobile and good in the air. He has superb timing and a presence that belies his relative inexperience.

How would you describe Holding’s style of play in general? Are there any well-known defenders he reminds you of?

Well he has echoes of Gary Cahill, and John Stones. I’d say though that he is more comfortable on the ball and has better distribution than both. He can play a long or short pass with equal aplomb, but he has the ability to pick and choose when to do this – unlike Stones who seems determined to piss about with the ball.

Is his best position in the centre of defence or do you think he might end up as a full-back?

Definitely a centre back. I’ve seen how Wenger has forced Chambers to be a utility defender and that, for me, was the wrong move. Holding played well at right back, but at centre half he was exceptional.

Do you consider the reported £2.5m fee to be decent business given Bolton’s financial situation or have Arsenal grabbed a bargain here?

Given our situation it’s probably a bargain for you, but that sort of money could secure half a dozen players for us in League One. I’d have loved to get more, but in reality he only had a year on his deal and has only played 30 games for the club. It’s both a bargain and quite fair.

And finally, if you were to advise Arsene Wenger on how to get the best out of Holding, what would you say?

Simple that. Give him a chance.


Chris is the editor at Bolton Wanderers blog Lion of Vienna Suite and can be found on Twitter at @19manning83.

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