After a shaky start to the Premier League season where they lost both their first two games against Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal have since had an upturn in form.
The Gunners have won their last five matches and are level on points with north London rivals Tottenham, who currently occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in fourth.
Arsenal’s change in fortune has partly been down to the team’s defence improving game by game with Shkodran Mustafi a mainstay in the starting XI under Unai Emery.
Should the German or central defensive partner Sokratis get injured, however, then Emery could have to look towards Rob Holding.
So how do the young English defender and Mustafi compare?
Purchased from Bolton for a very relatively low transfer fee back in the summer of 2016, Holding arrived at the Emirates as an extremely underwhelming signing to say the least.
The 23-year-old, however, has since proven to be a shrewd bit of business down by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Holding instantly became a fan favourite when he went toe-to-toe with Arsenal archival Diego Costa in the club’s 2-1 triumph over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final and, overall, has done pretty well whenever called upon.
With the addition of Sokratis, who has added a bit more steel to the Arsenal defence, game time in the Premier League will be limited for Holding.
If the former Bolton man, though, can continue to make an impression in competitions such as the Europa League and Carabao Cup, a path into Emery’s starting XI could eventually open up for him.
TT Grade: C
Mustafi initially made a solid start to life at Arsenal following his arrival from Valencia in 2016.
As time went on, though, the Germany international’s defensive deficiencies were exposed and he soon became another Arsenal vulnerability when the team were without the ball.
Mustafi’s lack of pace, tendency to get too tight to forwards and constantly dive in, has seen the Gunners cut open on plenty of occasions by any half decent side. A charge on the title looks far away for the club with players making such defensive errors.
That being said, Mustafi and Arsenal’s defence as a whole are gradually getting better since their horror shows versus Chelsea and Manchester City where they conceded so many opportunities.
TT Grade: C+
From the promise he has shown thus far, Holding is on course to becoming a more solid defender than Mustafi down the line.
For now, though, Mustafi looks the stronger individual out of the two, and his experience is clearly of value to Emery.
Therefore, the former Valencia man edges this battle between Arsenal team-mates.
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