Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest: Unai Emery full of praise for 'perfect' Rob Holding

The Independent Sports 1 month ago

Unai Emery hailed Rob Holding‘s “perfect” return from long-term injury after Arsenal cruised into the Carabao Cup fourth round by hammering Nottingham Forest 5-0.

Centre-back Holding, out for more than nine months with a serious knee problem, nodded home to double the Gunners’ advantage as they blitzed Sky Bet Championship Forest with four goals in the final 19 minutes.

Seconds before his towering 71st-minute header, the 24-year had taken the captain’s armband from the substituted Mesut Ozil.

Brazilian 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli started and finished the scoring at the Emirates Stadium with his first Arsenal goals on his full debut, with academy graduates Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson also on target after Emery changed his entire starting XI for the tie.

Speaking about Holding, who was injured at Manchester United on December 5, Emery said: “Every day in training he helps us to have more performances like a team. He needed to take minutes, take confidence.

The winger made a prolific breakthrough into the first-team last season, scoring three goals in six games, before being ruled out with a groin injury. After spending six months at RB Leipzig last season, he has been promoted to the senior squad on a full-time basis.
The skilful Netherlands youth international impressed in the U18s Premier League last season, cutting in off the left-wing scoring 7 goals and adding a further four assists.
Suffered a cruel injury blow soon after joining the Cherries from Bristol for £13m over the summer. The full-back has huge potential and will be hopeful of breaking into the starting eleven quickly.
The young Irish striker had a brilliant season for the U23s, ending the season with 16 goals in 18 appearances. Can hope to make his breakthrough in the
Joined after ending a two-year scholarship at Arsenal and was included in Burnley's pre-season tour of Portugal.
Starring on loan at Wigan last season, the versatile full-back was named in the Championship team of the season and is pushing for a starting place after Davide Zappacosta's departure.
The young full-back was included in the club's pre-season plans and has been compared to Aaron Wan-Bissaka by teammate Andros Townsend.
The centre-back joined the Toffees from Newcastle for a fee that could ultimately rise to £6m and has immediately impressed with the club’s youth sides.
The England youth international joined Leicester in the summer after one season with the club’s sister side OH Leuven in Belgium and featured in this summer's Toulon Tournament.
The Dutch centre-back was handed his debut in the FA Cup at just 16 years old and will expect to get more first-team minutes under Jurgen Klopp, who is an outspoken admirer of Virgil van Dijk’s mentee.
After spells at Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona and Brentford, City snapped up the England youth international, who made his debut in the League Cup win over Burton last season.
The highly touted left-back travelled with United’s Champions League squad after an impressive season with the U18s and is set to challenge Luke Shaw in years to come.
His older brother Sean has stolen the plaudits thus far, but his younger brother is not far behind and was included on the club’s pre-season tour of China.
The Irishman impressed on loan in Australia last season before appearing in the Toulon Tournament.
The 18-year-old striker was awarded a new contract in the summer after scoring a goal every 170 minutes for the U23s last season before impressing for Ireland in the Toulon Tournament over the summer.
The young full-back seems destined to make a push for first-team minutes and can challenge Ryan Bertrand after the Saints opted to sell Matt Targett.
The Irish striker starred during Spurs’ pre-season and has since returned to goalscoring form with the U23s. Mauricio Pochettino is a keen admirer and a debut is not far away.
The Brazilian prodigy has thrilled at Fluminese and will link up with Watford's senior squad in January once he has turned 18.
The prodigious winger is regarded as one of England’s best prospects and has soared through the academy age groups, attracting a wealth of suitors from across Europe.
The defensive midfielder excited on the club's pre-season tour, having been called up to Wales' senior squad while still a 17-year-old.

“And I think tonight – the first match after playing with the under-23s – is perfect. He was a little tired at the end of the match but he scored and he’s happy tonight and we’re happy for him.”

Emery used the fixture to hand a debut to £25million summer signing Kieran Tierney, available after arriving from Celtic with a groin problem, while substitute Hector Bellerin joined Holding in returning from a long-standing knee issue.

Bellerin marked his return with the assist for Willock’s goal, moments after replacing impressive left-back Tierney in the 77th minute.

Despite losing 19-year-old forward Emile Smith Rowe to a first-half head injury, Emery was left to reflect on an extremely positive evening.

He said: “It was an opportunity for different players to take confidence, to take minutes. The game was for us in 90 minutes very consistent.

“Some different players gave us the performance, also coming back after injuries of Holding, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin.

“And I think it was a good match, a good result, a clean sheet, there are a lot of pleasing things and we can be positive with different options for the next matches.”

Speaking about Smith Rowe, he added: “It was for a precaution we changed him. I’m thinking he’s not going to be a serious problem.”

Emery was also left purring at the performance of Martinelli, whose only previous appearance since joining from Brazilian club Ituano in the summer was a six-minute cameo at Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season.

“Martinelli is a very young player but he came here and we were waiting and watching him, how he could improve with us,” said Emery.

“He played very well. He was working each training with a big spirit and with a big performance.

“I spoke with him to have some patience to get his opportunity to play, to do like he was doing in training and in the matches in pre-season and tonight he did that and really he deserved it because he’s a very humble player.

“He fights, he is hungry to have that opportunity to help us and his work was perfect tonight.”

Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi, who suffered a first defeat since the opening weekend of the season, admitted his side were second best but felt the final scoreline flattered the hosts.

Forest, backed by almost 8,400 fans, managed only one attempt on target in 90 minutes in their first visit to Arsenal since a 2-1 top-flight loss in August 1998.

“We deserved to lose but five, for me, is too much,” said the Frenchman.

“You play tonight against one of the best four, best six teams in the Premier League, top players. Nothing to add.

“Congratulations to Arsenal and good luck for the rest of this competition.”

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