Arsenal legend Ian Wright has paid tribute to Rob Holding’s attitude and ability after Mikel Arteta’s side held on to beat Premier League champions 2-1 at the Emirates, while speaking on Match of the Day (15 July, 10.45pm).
You would be forgiven for wondering if the former Bolton Wanderers youngster had invented some kind of magnetised hair mousse before Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders came to north London.
Because Holding was on the end of almost every single cross Liverpool threw into the box, making an impressive seven clearances during a performance in which he has surely established himself ahead of the eternally-erratic Shkodran Mustafi in the Arsenal pecking order.
The 24-year-old showed a vocal side too after a first-half argument with Liverpool winger Sadio Mane.
But Wright could hardly have been happier to see one of Arteta’s players show a bit of much-needed character on the pitch.
“Rob Holding for me today, I love the way he stood up to Mane… I little dig at him there,” said the second-highest goalscorer in Arsenal’s history.
“He stood up and it’s great to see an Arsenal defender doing that.”
While there is still plenty of work to do for Arteta in north London, Wednesday’s victory, fortuitous though it was, represented a major step forward in the development of a talented crop of youngsters.
The hosts scored twice from just two shots of target, Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson profiting from shocking Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker errors, before holding on with an all-too rare backs-against-the-wall defensive effort.
And Holding was the rock at the heart of an increasingly well-drilled backline.