Rob Holding has been hailed by Arteta, defended by Wenger, given captaincy by Ozil, silenced ‘crazy’ Costa, and now has new Arsenal contract

‘Rob Holding, y’know, he’s better than Cannavaro’ – so it’s no surprise he’s got a new contract at Arsenal.
Tongues might be in cheeks from the Emirates faithful with that ditty involving Italy legend Fabio, but let’s not get away from the fact the ex-Bolton centre-back is now a key star.
Rob Holding has won two FA Cups with Arsenal since leaving Boltongetty
We all know about the Gunners’ struggles in the early stages of the campaign before their festive revival but even while they were unable to string results together, their defence was impressive.
Even now, while they sit 11th in the Premier League table, they have the joint-fourth best backline in the division, with only Man City, Tottenham, and Aston Villa conceding fewer – and all three clubs have played fewer games.
Had Mikel Arteta got his forward line firing, things might be looking rosier for the Gunners and Holding has to take a lot of credit, starting 13 of their 17 league matches.
He’s already made more Premier League appearances this season than he has in any of his previous four campaigns.

It wasn’t his lack of ability which stopped his progression, though, just an unfortunately timed cruciate ligament rupture in December 2018, which kept him out of action for eight months.
His comeback showed the character he has and the way his teammates feel about him though.
Starting in a young and inexperienced side for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup tie with Nottingham Forest, Mesut Ozil headed straight to the defender when he was substituted and handed over the captain’s armband.
Seconds later Holding put the ball into the back of the net from a Reiss Nelson corner.
Holding was given the armband and immediately scoredAFP or licensors
“The dream comeback really for me,” Holding said after the game.
“[Scoring with] my first touch as the captain. You can’t write that any better. It was a proud moment for me to put the armband on.”
While typically he ensured all the talk wasn’t about himself, Hector Bellerin also returned from a long-term injury that night, getting in on the action in a 5-0 victory.
“For Hector to come back and get an assist straight away, you couldn’t have wrote it any better really,” he added.
Prior to the injury, Holding had not lost a single one of the 16 games he’d played in during the 2018/19 season, and fans were rightly getting excited about his talents.
Holding celebrates his goal as captainGetty Images – Getty
He was a wanted man last summer too, with Newcastle United extremely keen on landing the former Bolton ace who already has two FA Cup winners medals to his name, and started both the 2017 and 2020 finals.
Not that he has any of the medals, he gave them away – to his dad.
“My dad’s got both my FA Cup medals and my Community Shield medals, too,” he revealed in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.
“He’s got them safe somewhere locked up. I don’t know where, but if I asked him he’d know how to get them straight away. He’ll have them treasured for sure.”
Holding played a big role in Arsenal’s Community Shield win in August to make it four trophies since his arrivalgetty
A new contract shows the turnaround for Holding, who would have feared for his place at the Emirates earlier this year with Pablo Mari and Gabriel both joining the club.
Now, though, Holding is viewed as ‘an emerging leader’ by the Arsenal hierarchy with Arteta himself intervening to ensure he didn’t leave the club, on loan or permanently.
And the Spaniard praised the player for his rise to first-team regular once again
“It was almost a year ago when he came back from his injury. He had a period when he did not play.
Arteta is delighted with Holding’s improvementAFP or licensors
“When you compare how he has evolved from there to now, in a year’s time, it is incredible.
“It’s down to him. How professional he is, how much he wants to learn, how much he puts that into every training session and then his character and his personality.
“He’s growing in every aspect and I’m really happy with him.”
Arteta isn’t the first manager to defend Holding a, £2million signing in 2016.
Holding established himself as a key player quickly at Arsenal but injuries took their toll
When fans and pundits were querying the direction of the Gunners ahead of that summer’s transfer window closing, Arsene Wenger quickly praised the centre-back for his showing in their 0-0 draw with Leicester.
“It’s not just about spending the money,” the legendary manager said. “We are ready to spend the money but we have to find players who will improve our team.
“Nobody speaks about the performance of Rob Holding today – he is English, he is 20 years old, you should be happy. But I am sorry he didn’t cost £55m.
“We don’t speak about the performances anymore and I think that is not right.”
Wenger was quick to defend his young signingGetty Images – Getty
Holding appears loved by his teammates and is even, seemingly, the dressing room DJ, and it might not be as surprising as it seems.
He already proved on an Instagram live that he’s got an ear for a tune, playing along to Oasis hit ‘Wonderwall’, with Aston Villa ace Jack Grealish praising his song choice.

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Rob Holding’s instagram live is quite interesting
— Renato (@rehnato) December 30, 2020

And his leadership qualities have never been in doubt, especially since his handling of former Chelsea striker Diego Costa in the 2017 FA Cup final.
Not only was he superb against the experienced centre-forward, he didn’t allow the Spaniard to ruffle his feathers, instead branding his rival ‘crazy’ after one tangle.
“I knew Diego Costa’s game was to wind up centre halves,” he told Arsenal Player. “I’d seen it many times, watching the games on TV and how he would always wind people up off the ball.
“I knew he’d try something with me being young, I knew he’d think he could bully me a bit but I just stood up to him. I think we did that well.

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“When you’re hot, frustrated and wanting to do well, you get that bit of passion which comes out inside you. If any other Chelsea player had done something to me, I would give them a bit back because I was brought up like that. I was brought up to never shy away from anything.
“I’m not sure how he changed his game [afterwards] , but I just think he knew that he wasn’t going to intimidate me. I think that’s what he thought he was going to do because of the age difference. Once he saw I stood up to him, he thought, ‘I’ll try something else here’.”
Another of Holding’s qualities is the fact he’s got an everyman nature to him, perhaps best shown during a clash with Wolves earlier this season.
Holding has been impressive in a tight defencegetty
The Spain winger went down easily under a challenge and referee Michael Oliver gave the foul.
Frustrated by how the muscle-bound ace fell, Holding fumed: “He’s built like a brick s***house, how can he go down like that? F*** me.”
That honesty, picked up on a pitchside microphone, won a lot of fans over but it’s his performance which are now earning him the plaudits and a new deal at Arsenal.

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