Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Rob Holding won’t be playing in the team’s crucial Europa League match on Thursday.
The Gunners face Portuguese opposition Benfica in the Europa League Round of 32 tie tomorrow, with the sides currently locked together at 1-1 scoreline on aggregate.
Arteta’s side do have the advantage of an away goal in their favour, but it’s a contest that has so much riding on it as the Europa League competition seems like Arsenal’s best route of getting into next year’s Champions League.
Ahead of the Benfica showdown, Spanish manager Arteta revealed that Holding will be absent from the match day squad and is not allowed to travel.
The 25-year-old defender was forced off in the weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City with a concussion injury, which has subsequently ruled him out of Thursday.
“Regarding Rob, he’s not available [against Benfica]. He had a concussion, we tested him and he’s completely fine but obviously now we need to follow the protocols and he won’t be able to travel,” Arteta said, as quoted by Football.London.
Holding has been a go-to centre-back in the Premier League during the pat couple of months for Arsenal, where he’s looked fairly strong and consistent for the most part.
He was left on the bench for the first leg draw against Benfica and will watch from home the second leg unfold.
It seems likely that Arteta may want to make some alterations to his XI to freshen it up from the weekend, but this is arguably the club’s biggest game of the season so far and a defeat would be a catastrophe.