Ahead of this weekend’s trip to Watford, Arsenal have received a boost. Unai Emery has Rob Holding back available after he returned to full training, Arsenal’s website has confirmed.
Holding has been out with an ACL injury since December 2018. He picked up that injury against Manchester United and he had to undergo surgery. But he is now back and available for selection.
This gives Emery a dilemma ahead of the match against Watford. Does he slowly integrate Holding back into the side or select him straight away? We take a look at why the first option is preferable.
Arsenal defence needs tightening up
One argument suggesting that Arsenal should immediately call on Holding is that the defence needs tightening up. The Gunners have only kept one clean sheet this season and looked vulnerable against Liverpool and Arsenal in the past two games.
David Luiz has come in so he can partner Sokratis but the pair have looked sloppy. Calum Chambers started the season but Emery is still unconvinced. In Holding, he has a player he can trust.
Busy period ahead
But with so many games coming up, Emery needs to keep his players fresh. Holding is coming back from a long-term injury and Emery needs to err on the side of caution.
Arsenal have the Premier League to consider, as well as the EFL Cup, the Europa League and the FA Cup from January. With so many games ahead, there is no need to rush Holding in against Watford.
Emery needs Holding for long-term
Further to that point, Emery needs Holding to be available for the majority of the season. If he is fully fit, he is arguably a starting centre-back alongside either Sokratis or Luiz. Alternatively, he can operate in a back-three alongside both of them.
Rushing him back represents a needless risk. Emery started this season without Holding, Bellerin or Tierney. He cannot afford to have them missing for longer periods.