By Dominic Toner
Arsene Wenger has praised youngster Rob Holding despite Arsenal’s defence leaking four goals against Liverpool.
The 20-year-old summer signing made his competitive debut alongside England Under-21 international Calum Chambers in the heart of the defence but Liverpool’s attacking threat proved too much as the Gunner slumped to a 4-3 opening weekend defeat.
Wenger was forced to turn to his inexperienced defenders due to an injury crisis, with Gabriel and Per Mertesacker absent through long-term injuries and Frenchman Laurent Koscielny not yet match fit.
Liverpool scored some remarkable goals to secure victory and Wenger has not blamed Holding for the result.
“I think he did very well overall. He was one of the positives of our game,” Wenger said, as quoted by ESPN FC. “He has shown intelligence and quality in defending and quality in passing forward and overall I think it’s a very positive game [for him].
“If you look well at the goals, it’s not necessarily our defenders who cost us the goals today.”
Philippe Coutinho’s second goal of the game move ex-Anfield striker Stan Collynore to describe it as “worthy of any Liverpool side in any era”.
Holding made 30 appearances last term and was a shining light in Bolton’s wretched campaign that ended in relegation to League One.
He was named Bolton’s Player of the Year last season, and was part of Gareth Southgate’s tournament-winning under-21 this summer.
The 20-year-old will face stiff competition from the current crop of Arsenal centre-backs to keep a first-team place when they are all fit, but for the mean time could play a key role in the club’s early league campaign.
In other Arsenal team news, Jack Wilshire has praised the landmark reached by his team-mate.