Rio Ferdinand criticises Rob Holding after Arsenal’s shambolic start against Aston Villa

Rio Ferdinand was shocked by Arsenal's defending against Aston Villa
Rio Ferdinand was shocked by Arsenal’s defending against Aston Villa (Picture: BT Sport)

Rio Ferdinand slammed Arsenal for the shambolic start they made to Saturday’s Premier League game against Aston Villa.

Looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s contentious defeat against Wolves, the Gunners made the worst possible start, conceding after just 74 seconds following some calamitous defending.

Cedric Soares was guilty of a under-hitting a pass that sold Gabriel, restored to the starting line-up in the absence of the suspended David Luiz, short and the flat-footed Brazilian was easily beaten by Bertrand Traore.

The Villa winger was able to pick out the unmarked Ollie Watkins and the in-form striker beat debutant Mat Ryan via the aid of a deflection from Rob Holding’s outstretched boot.

It was a comedy of errors, but Ferdinand reserved particular criticism for Holding, who failed to get tight enough to Watkins.

Ollie Watkins scored Aston Villa's opening goal against Arsenal via the aid of a deflection from Rob Holding
Ollie Watkins scored Aston Villa’s opening goal against Arsenal via the aid of a deflection from Rob Holding (Picture: Getty)

Ferdinand told BT Sport: ‘I think the first 75 seconds goes against everything that would’ve been said in the dressing room before the game.

‘Stay concentrated, get your foot into the game early on, the first touch get it right. Other than that everything happend in that first 75 seconds.

‘Bad first touch from Cedric, great press from Traore. I think Holding has to get tighter, there’s one player to look after in the box, get tighter to him and then the deflection does the keeper.’

Arsenal had been hopeful that Luiz’s red card would be overturned after launching an appeal but the Football Association stuck by the original decision, much to Mikel Arteta’s disappointment.

‘It is what it is,’ said the Arsenal manager. ‘We did what we had to do after the game which was put a case together and hope that the decision would be overturned but it didn’t, surprisingly when the Southampton boy got it.’

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