Holding: Kos experience makes 3-5-2 easier


Rob Holding says Laurent Koscielny’s presence made playing in a 3-5-2 formation at Middlesbrough much easier as he also revealed his only previous experience in a three-man defence was an away defeat suffered during his Bolton days against the same opponents.

The England under-21 international, making his 11th appearance of the season, looked calm and composed on the left side of the centre-back trio even though he didn’t know until late that he’d be replacing the injured Shkodran Mustafi.

Reflecting on Monday’s 2-1 win, Holding told Arsenal Player: “Koscielny was the central one, pulling the strings with us both and telling us where to go and that, so with someone like him and his experience it makes it a lot more comfortable.

“I’ve played once before in a back three and it was actually here on my Championship debut with Bolton.

“We lost 3-0 so that was a bit different to this one, but I’ve played in a back three before and you’ve just got to keep working together and communicating and as long as you keep sliding across as a unit then you’re alright.

“We’d done it in the week and then we did it yesterday [Sunday] but I wasn’t in the team and I wasn’t sure if I was playing or not and it wasn’t until today that I found out I was in the back three, so that was good.

“With those two [Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny] alongside you it’s a lot easier.”

It remains to be seen whether Arsene Wenger will stick with the formation for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City although the boss hinted it was likely to be more of a short-term move.

“Overall I felt that it worked quite well because we won the game,” he told Arsenal Player after the match.

“We had practiced on it before at some stage, (but) we like offensive football so this was a bit more defensive-minded for us.

“I feel overall it is not a long-term plan, but punctually it can work.”

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30 Comments on "Holding: Kos experience makes 3-5-2 easier"

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Mr. G

Would really like to see this guy play more between now and the end of the season. He’s played well pretty much every time he’s played, and Mustafi has been mostly very poor since the turn of the year.


How old school does it feel to have a young English centre half playing at Arsenal again? I love it.

He’s got bags of promise, I just hope that he has the head on him to keep at it, and not get distracted like so many other young talented players with off the field stuff and subsequently not reach his full potential.

And what a player to learn off of too, Koscielny for me is one of the best centre backs in Europe. I think if Arsene actually had a sound defensive strategy I think he would be unplayable at times – it is so frustrating at times, because we have the players to be really defensively solid, we just don’t have the system.


I’d keep Holding and Kos together if we go back to a back 4. I feel more comfortable with him than Gabriel (and even Mustafi recently).



Stringer Bell

Really like him. Huge potential. Would rather he starts over Gabriel and Mustafi on current form. Him and kos could make good partnership.

David C

the problem is Wenger is the director and coach. He bought Mustafi for so much money that he probably feels he has to play him. Mustafi has faded pretty obviously since the beginning of the season. Many of us were calling for Holding sooner. His only bad or so-so performance was the first game when he was thrown in with Chambers against Liverpool.

Utkarsh Vora

Really like Holding. Good to see bellerin get a break away from the spotlight too. Ox’s performance as RWB was very decent too, the relief on his face at the end of the game was all of us!


I really like this guy, he seems down to earth with his head on his shoulders… Hope he picks up on Kos and his leadership and abilities, to one day get the captains armband for us

Donald\'s Trump

Leadership? Come on!


They seem keen on this formation don’t they

Mein Bergkampf

Saw the same stuff after the Lincoln game. Arsenal players complimenting each other, talking about their loss in form in the past tense, talking of squad cohesion and getting behind their manager. I’ll be absolutely amazed if this team, performing like this, get anything other than steamrollered against Citeh.




Obviously i disagree


Out of all our young players he’d probably shown the most progress this season.

Would be interesting to see if he could do it week in week out against some of the bigger teams.


“punctually it can work.” 😀

Typical Wenger Frenglish!


I think Holdings had a good game vs Boro, but honestly, I think the 3 man defence was not too collectively convincing. Still needs some times for the team to get use to

Wright on the money

Holding needs more game time to get the experience I hope he plays the rest of the season with Kos to get the experience for next season.

I like Kos but he won’t be around for too many more season coz of his age. I just hope Arsenal get another couple of young centre backs to play along with Kos before he retires.

I would like to see Gibson or Mee.


Koscielny is 31,he can play more 3 or 4 seasons for us


Give him a run Arsene…seeing him establish himself would be seen as a positive to this season. Even if we somehow miraculously swing 4th place and win the FA Cup against the odds, we’ve missed someone doing an “Iwobi” this season


Three at the back was far from convicing but we won away from home (for a change). Not that the players got into the drill after a week of practise so I imagine it can get better. Bottom line, would like Arsene to stick to 3-5-2. At least for some time.


Holding definitely deserves more playing time, has always done well with the opportunities he’s been given and is very steady, reminds me a lot of Kos.


When I see the likes of Holding, Emi Martinez, Elneny and maybe few more ( you know, not the usual start up) in the lineup, I’m not worried at all. Holding seems very professional and calm even though he’s still young.


I think the 3-5-2 formation is not so important as far as stabilizing the back but it helps us get better control of Midfield where we have been weak all year especially since Santi Cazorla has been out. This in turn helps us better defensively and also allows us to have a stronger transition game.


Who would have thought that a kid from Bolton bought for 2 m would be the outstanding sighing from last year, he has a fantastic future ahead of him for Arsena and England.


Can’t help but feel we’re just jumping on the bandwagon with 3-5-2 and it’s all a little bit desperate. Hope I’m wrong but I don’t really feel we have the personnel or the confidence at the moment to make it work and that we’ll get massively exposed and stretched against a team better than ‘Boro.


Well if the formation is going to be used ‘punctually’ it might be a good idea to train with it a bit more, wouldn’t you think? This all sounds like they just trained once or twice with it and threw it out there.

It always looks like our biggest defensive problem is lack of organization. Who’s marking who? Or even where? What are we doing on set pieces? Actually, lack of knowing what’s going on at all, many times. From the sound of this, it’s no wonder.

The formation is just that. If the players don’t know what they’re doing it just doesn’t matter much.


Oh ye, and let’s try to block a cross once in a while, shall we? Seems like a good idea.


Ironic. It was the experienced Koscielny that got caught out.

Had it been Mustafi…some people will have a moan about how he is not very good at football.

Mustafi in his first season having to slot right in has done very well imo. The same people tend to forget Koscielny’s first season littered with reds, penalties conceded and own goals.

It depends what lens you are wearing. They amplify the mistakes you want to seebandvtoo easily forgive the transgressions of the popular players like Jenko and Elneny who are frankly not that good.


Holding is a great David Dein signing.


The future partnership is potentially Mustafi and Holding.

Again the same simplistic nonsense about a young player who is calm under pressure and shows some promise but he hasn’t been fully tested.

If reserve judgement a bit.

Its like waxing lyrical about mediocre Elneny passing sideways against a second or third rate team in the mickey mouse cup and quoting pass completion statistics.

Holding is a good Wenger buy again and a promising player but he still has s learning curve ahead of him.

Against Boro he is OK. But its Boro. They are not struggling to score for no readon