Arsenal defender Rob Holding was sent for an early bath in a crucial north London derby match against Tottenham Hotspur, shoving Heung-min Son after his first booking only seven minutes prior
Image: Sky Sports)
The 26-year-old, who has enjoyed a period of good form in recent weeks while deputising for the injured Benjamin White, crashed into Tottenham Hotspur forward Heung-min Son in the 33rd minute and was shown a second yellow card by referee Paul Tierney.
Holding had picked up his first booking seven minutes earlier, bringing down Son again shortly after Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead from the penalty spot. It didn’t take long for Spurs to capitalise on boasting the extra man in the crucial top-four clash, as Kane headed home his second goal of the game from a flicked-on corner.
Fans on social media were furious with the defender, with one supporter tweeting: “Rob Holding is very, very stupid. Elbow on the face with a yellow.” Another lamented: “Wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didnt get red in the NLD.”
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp labelled his fouls “judo moves” and criticised Mikel Arteta for not bringing a centre-back on after Holding’s dismissal which sees him banned for their trip to Newcastle on Monday. In commentary, Gary Neville said: “What is he doing? What is he doing? Oh my goodness. I am watching the run and he has a jab with the elbow. He has been erratic for the first part of this game, he has been rash, he has been unsteady and he has to go.”
The first half was a nightmare for Arteta and co, with the Gunners boss telling his players pre-match just how important the match was to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. “It’s the opportunity to achieve something we haven’t achieved for many years,” Arteta pre-match.
“It’s the game that will decide it. Normally you don’t play games like that in the league unless you are competing for the trophy. But we know that at our level and our extent what this game can deliver to us is really important.
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“We always play to win and that’s the way we will prepare this game. I’m sure they will try to do the same. That’s why hopefully it’s a really spectacular game.”
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte added: “We are talking about an important game. Important for many different situations. First we are playing this game for an important target. For a place in the Champions League. This is first, to try to win this game. I also know the importance for our fans of this derby, the north London derby.
“This is the first time they’re playing this derby in their stadium with all the fans. We have to try to get three points against Arsenal. We are talking about a good team, a really well organised team. Arteta is doing a really good job. He’s had the possibility to work and improve his team. In this moment of the season it has to give us a big push.”