After suffering a devastating knee injury mid-way through last season, Rob Holding would have been hoping for a campaign unbridled by any more setbacks. Unfortunately for him, the centre-back has been out of action with niggling problems, and made his much-anticipated return from his latest setback against Leeds United on Monday night.
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And perhaps understandably so, the 24-year-old was extremely rusty. As per Sofascore, the defender had a measly 72% pass accuracy, made one error that directly led to a shot, and lost possession 13 times. The Leeds attack had a field day with playing balls in behind him and running him ragged with their movement after the ball, and in particularly dominant first-half performance, had 15 total shots on goal.
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After seeing his overall performance, Arsenal fans flooded to Twitter to voice their thoughts on the Englishman, with a few quick to point out the mitigating circumstances over his comeback from injury.
He’s been injured, can’t be too harsh.
— The Panda (@ThePandaAFC) 6 January 2020
He has been out for quite a long time.. he will need time to adjust to what Arteta needs from him.. calm down guys
— Akash Ammanath (@Akash2307) 6 January 2020
Hes been inured cant judge straight away will take time to get match fitness
— Kawal (@Kawal_Singh_) 6 January 2020
A few fans were particularly critical of his distribution on the ball as previously noted, with one supporter in particular labelling him as “unbelievably careless”.
Rob holding’s passing is absolutely horrific
— Matthew (@minstrel69) 6 January 2020
Rob Holding is still unbelievably careless
— SmileSomemore (@mikeytherapper) 6 January 2020
Rob holding distribution tonight wasn’t great, needs minutes playing after injury now to get back to where he was
— Notts Gooner (@Notts_Gooner) 6 January 2020
Some fans drew comparisons between Holding’s performance and what Shkodran Mustafi has produced, with suggestions that it was even worse than whatever the German has produced for the club.
Rob Holding has been worse than the worst of Mustafi but he is English, so no noise… #ARSLEE
— Adebayo (@Seadbari) 6 January 2020
Holding tonight has been worse than any Mustafi performance in the last year.
— And there’s nobody better than Mikel Arteta (@BeltransMole23) 6 January 2020
Holding playing like prime Mustafi #AFC
— Heavywaite (@bethw8) 6 January 2020
In his first game back from injury, Holding certainly didn’t do himself any favours under the watchful gaze of Arteta. The former Bolton centre-back struggled to get up to speed with the game, and he looked shaky with his defending, and wasteful in possession. But crucially for him, he’s gotten 90 minutes of competitive football under his belt, and that ultimately will be the biggest positive to take for both the defender and the Gunners themselves.