Arsenal fans are nervous about the side’s chances against Manchester City on Friday (January 27) after Rob Holding was named in their starting lineup. The Gunners have made the trip to the Etihad Stadium to face their Premier League title rivals in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
One of English football’s top teams will be knocked out of the world’s oldest competition during the early stages. Arsenal supporters fear that their team may be on the losing end due to Holding being selected by Mikel Arteta in defense.
The English defender has lacked game time at the Emirates Stadium, featuring just 14 times this season. However, he did start and captain the side in their 3-0 win over Oxford United in the third round.
Despite this, he will have the difficult task of dealing with Manchester City striker Erling Haaland. The free-scoring Norweigan has already netted 31 goals in just 26 games so far this season. He has been a nightmare for defenders throughout the campaign.
Holding will sit in defense in front of Matt Turner, who deputizes for Aaron Ramsdale. Meanwhile, the English defender is joined in defense by Takehiro Tomiyasu, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Kieran Tierney as Arteta shuffles his deck.
Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, and Fabio Vieira are in midfield, while new-signing Leandro Trossard, Bukayo Saka, and the in-form Eddie Nketiah are in attack. Gunners fans will be hoping that the latter can continue his rich vein of form in which he has bagged nine goals this term.
They will also be praying that Holding can put in a stellar performance against the likes of Haaland, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish. It promises to be an intriguing clash between the two Premier League heavyweights.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Arteta’s decision to start Holding for Arsenal at the Etihad:
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola lauds Arsenal manager Arteta
Guardiola and Arteta previously worked together at Manchester City for three seasons. The latter was an assistant coach for the former Barcelona manager. They won two Premier League titles and the FA Cup.
Arteta left for Arsenal in 2019 and lifted the FA Cup in his first season in charge at the Emirates Stadium. He has propelled the Gunners to the top of the Premier League this season. They hold a five-point lead over second-placed City with a game in hand.
Guardiola has praised Arteta for his influence on him during their time together at the Etihad. He said (via BBC Sport):
“I don’t know my part on him but his influence on me was great, massive, so important in becoming a better manager.”
The Spanish coach then hinted that Arteta would have succeeded him as Manchester City boss if he were to have left the club:
“If I had left, Mikel would be here and he would be the best, absolutely.”