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Arteta backs Arsenal ‘leader’ Holding to make ‘dream’ England debut

The centre-back has never made a senior appearance for England, but he has been in fine form this season.

Holding has been a regular for Arsenal and only Manchester City have conceded less goals than the Gunners during the current campaign.

The 25-year-old has played every minute of Arsenal’s current seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which they are looking to extend to eight at Wolves tonight, and in that time the team has conceded just two goals and kept five clean sheets.

The latest of those came on Saturday against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium, where England manager Gareth Southgate was watching on, and Arteta believes Holding is going the right way to making his international debut.

“I think it would be a dream for Rob from what I know,” said Arteta.

“I think he is going in the right direction and what he needs to do is keep performing that way, and making things difficult for Gareth. At the moment I think he is doing that.”

The defender joined Arsenal in 2016, signing from Bolton for £2million, and he recently made his 100th appearance for the club.

The 25-year-old’s ability has often been overlooked in the past by those outside Arsenal – with Arsene Wenger famously quipping: ‘I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good’ – and Arteta thinks the fact Holding cost so little could have contributed to that.

“Maybe it can be a factor,” he said. “We value him very much and I think now people understand the importance that he has on the team and at the club. I think he is happy at the club as well, so it is a good thing.

“I think his leadership has improved so much because he feels a very important part of the team.

“He is very respected, because he has earned that respect with the way he is as a human being, how much he looks after the other people and after how he is performing. It is a natural evolution for him and I am really happy with the way he’s performing.

“It is about him and how hard he works, how much he is all the time willing to learn, how humble he is. Even when things are going really well for him, he wants to get better.”

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Holding has helped Arsenal conceded two goals in their past seven League games.

/ Arsenal FC via Getty Images )

Holding is expected to start tonight’s game at Wolves, but Arsenal’s defence will have to cope without Kieran Tierney again.

The left-back is suffering with discomfort in his right lower leg and, along with goalkeeper Mat Ryan, will not travel to Wolves.

Arsenal could, however, welcome back Bukayo Saka and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Both missed Saturday’s draw with Manchester United, with Aubameyang quarantining after visiting his ill mother and Saka nursing a hip issue, but they trained yesterday.

Midfielder Dani Ceballos and defender Pablo Mari could also feature against Wolves after both recovering from calf problems.


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