Arsenal are currently on a three-game winning streak in all competition – their best run of the season so far. They’ve beaten Eintracht Frankfurt away in the Europa League last week, then they came back from going down twice at home to beat Aston Villa in the Premier League, and now Nottingham Forrest have been gunned down in the Carabao Cup.
The defence still seemed abysmal in some moments, even in these three games; especially against Villa. Both Sokratis Papastathopoulos have had their trademark errors, but fortunately, others have put their names forward for Unai Emery’s consideration the next time the Spaniard starts choosing his starting XI. Those names are Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.
Chambers has long been on the books at Arsenal. Five years, believe it or not. He seemed forgotten for a while during those relatively unsuccessful loan spells with Middlesbrough and Fulham, but now he’s back at the Emirates and he’s already given Emery a lot to think about. Still only 24, his defending is mostly unspectacular, which, frankly speaking, is a step up from the truly “spectacular” defending we’ve seen from Sokratis, Luiz or Mustafi. Placed in any defensive role, he seems capable of outperforming the man he has replaced; any of the back four.
Though primarily a centre-back, he has shown he can be more stable on the right flank than either Ainsley Maitland-Niles, or indeed Hector Bellerin. The same goes when he’s deployed on the left. There’s never a gap behind his back, while the same cannot be said about Sead Kolasinac. And while you’d perhaps expect his attacking side of the game to suffer because of it, Chambers still managed to score and lay out two assists in those three games; the same goal involvement as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, just to clarify.
Holding, on the other hand, just came back from a long injury absence and though he will require time to build up proper match fitness and clean the rust off, he’s always been an option the coaches (both Wenger and Emery) went to when they wanted a stable defender in the lineup.
Holding being fit again, and Chambers playing the way he is, could be the best news regarding Arsenal’s defence we’ve had in a long time.