Holding started last night’s (May 12) North London derby at the heart of the Gunners’ defense alongside Gabriel Magalhaes. However, the 26-year-old never really showed any composure and committed four fouls in quick succession, the last of which saw him get dismissed in the 33rd minute.
Although Tottenham were already 1-0 up at the time, Arteta’s side had fashioned some good opportunities and could’ve gotten themselves back into the game. However, they never really recovered after going down to 10 men and ended up losing 3-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Speaking after the match, Arteta defended his players while criticizing the refereeing decisions. Keane, however, opined that Holding cost Arsenal the game by getting dismissed. He told Sky Sports (as quoted by Metro):
‘‘I understand what he’s doing but he said about destroying the game, but Holding killed the team. What he says on TV, I get it, but I’ve been with managers when people get sent off. In that dressing room he’ll be absolutely slaughtering Holding, I imagine.’’
Keane, who was part of the last Spurs side to win a major trophy, added that the Gunners began the game well but were let down by their own individual errors:
‘‘They started off very well, first 15 minutes, they were controlling the game, looked very comfortable. Then they get a silly penalty, silly sending off.’’
The former Republic of Ireland striker concluded:
‘‘I get he has to protect him, he’s the manager, when he’s in front of the cameras, for everybody. There’s two games left in the season and it’s so important that they get the six points. But internally, he’ll be having a go at them players.’’
Tottenham defeat Arsenal to open up top-four race
Heading into the match against Tottenham, fourth-placed Arsenal held a four-point advantage over Spurs in fifth. A win in the derby would’ve sealed the Gunners’ place in the UEFA Champions League next season.
However, Arteta’s side fell behind midway through the first half despite beginning the game well. Cedric Soares fouled Son Heung-min in the box and Harry Kane converted the resulting spot-kick to give the hosts the lead.
Holding’s dismissal a little over the half-hour mark didn’t help matters. Just as the visitors looked to respond to going down to 10 men, they were quickly down by two as Kane scored from a well-worked corner in the 37th minute.
Arsenal could barely get settled in the second half before Son scored Tottenham’s third less than 90 seconds after the break to seal the deal.
The win took Antonio Conte’s men to within a point of their arch-rivals with two league matches left to play.