Arsenal supporters have been in high spirits in recent times after seeing their side extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 18 matches on Thursday night.
Unai Emery’s men went into their Europa League encounter with Vorskla Poltava off the back of beating Bournemouth 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, thus getting back to winning ways in the league after three straight draws. And the Gunners clinched top spot in their Europa League group on Thursday night as goals from Emile Smith-Rowe, Aaron Ramsey, and Joe Willock sealed a routine 3-0 success in the Ukrainian capital for the North London heavyweights.
As such, there have been many delighted Arsenal fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are hoping for even more from their team as the season wears on after some very shrewd summer additions by the new Gunners chief.
Overall, the Arsenal hierarchy were praised for their efforts during the close season, and while former boss Arsene Wenger was occasionally criticised for his dealings in the transfer market, one under-the-radar deal looks set to serve current manager Emery very well indeed, namely that of luring Rob Holding to the Emirates Stadium in 2016.
In a summer in which the Frenchman signed the likes of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, he also got a £2.7 million deal (as per Transfermarkt) done for young centre back Holding, a deal which was hardly raved about at the time, but one that Emery owes Wenger a lot for getting done given he appears to have been equipped with a future Gunners legend.
Ultimately, very few expected Holding to go straight into the first team upon arrival from Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2016, although he did finish the campaign with 18 appearances to his name in all competitions to suggest that he was very much in and around Wenger’s first team.
26 appearances followed last season in what turned out to be Wenger’s final year in charge of the North London giants, but it has been under Emery in which the 23-year-old defender has really come on leaps and bounds, to the point that he is very much in regular contention for a starting role.
The former England Under-21 international has appeared 14 times in all competitions so far this term of which eight have come in the Premier League, and with seven successive starts in the league, contributing to four Arsenal victories, it’s clear that Emery is placing a lot of faith in the youngster, and reaping the rewards from doing so.
Whether the Spaniard does indeed select him for the North London derby on Sunday very much remains to be seen, but given his meteoric rise under new boss Emery this season, in turn becoming a confident and commanding centre back, he looks set for a very bright future at the Emirates Stadium.
As such, the new Gunners chief has his predecessor to thank for equipping him with a future Arsenal legend – that £2.7 million under-the-radar deal is very much proving to be one of Wenger’s best.
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