Rob Holding made his first start of the season last week against FC Vorlska, and was thrust into action when he replaced Sokratis during the first half of our 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday.
The 23 year was quietly impressive in both games, and it gave Unai Emery a chance to see the centre-half in competitive action for the first time. The Spaniard must have liked what he saw, because he spoke ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup game against Brentford to urge the former Bolton man to take the opportunity to stake his claim for more regular action.
With continued doubts over the form of Shkodran Mustafi, who has had an error prone start to the season, there’s room for Holding to usurp the German if he can continue to impress, something the new boss made clear.
“We need every player when chances and opportunities come, because we need to also take more players to play,” said Emery.
“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.
“Brentford is also a good opportunity for Holding to continue taking confidence, taking minutes and taking also our ideas of playing and I want to look at him also with our best performance, staying in the first eleven.”
It’s interesting that he refers to the Premier League selection as the ‘first’ eleven, but you can see what he means when comparing to tonight’s competition and the Europa League.
There’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre at centre-half right now, with both Laurent Koscielny and young Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos injured, but if Holding does well again, he could find himself facing Watford at the weekend.