Arsenal under-23s beat Chelsea 4-1 on Friday afternoon in an impressive showing at the Gunners' London Colney training ground.
While Arsenal did indeed field several first-team stars including Danny Welbeck, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Carl Jenkinson and the aforementioned Holding, it's worth noting that the under-23s have lost their previous two games and played with an improved sense of confidence after the opening goal.
Here are a few things we learned from Arsenal's dismantling of Chelsea:
Malen looks a talent - but Arsenal need to be careful with him
The Dutch youngster is represented by agent Mino Raiola, who has become notorious for making millions out of transfer deals over the past few years. He recently brokered the move which saw Manchester United re-sign Paul Pogba for a world record £89 million and netted himself £24m in the process. If Arsenal have hopes of blooding Malen in the first team then he could be an expensive and difficult player to keep judging by his agent’s previous form.
The former Ajax youngster provided glimpses of his supreme talent against Chelsea, linking up neatly with Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the first half and scoring an excellent strike on 35 minutes after Rob Holding’s bustling run through midfield gave the youngster a shot on goal which he made no mistake in finishing.
Bramall has all the required potential to make it at Arsenal
It’s been an exceptional rise up the footballing ladder for Arsenal youngster Cohen Bramall. The 19-year-old only signed for Arsenal from non-league side Hednesford Town in January but he is gradually getting game time under his belt for the under-23s side in defence. With the club’s other left-back Marc Bola currently on loan at Notts County, athletic starlet Bramall has free reign to impress in almost every game until the end of the season.
Under the watchful eye of Arsenal manager Wenger on Friday afternoon, Bramall put in an accomplished performance down the left hand side, showcasing his pace, attacking intelligence and ability to beat a man.
Holding is ready to play for the first-team
Rob Holding was one of the stand-out performances in the FA Cup fourth round victory over Sutton United, and while it may not have been the highest level of opposition he did himself no harm in auditioning for a regular place at centre back.
Shkodran Mustafi has struggled for form since returning from injury, with his positioning and distribution lacking at times, paving the way for Holding to feature sporadically until the end of the season. His passing is second to none and the clever corner kick routine which saw him score the opener against Chelsea provided another example of what Holding can offer from set pieces.
The lung-busting run through midfield to set up Donyell Malen was equally as impressive. Wenger famously said at the start of the season that Holding wasn’t getting the plaudits he deserved due to his relatively small £1.5m price tag, but perhaps it’s time for him to get an extended run in this Arsenal side before the season ends.
Playing fringe players was the right decision
The likes of Carl Jenkinson and Emi Martinez are unlikely to feature again this season unless Arsenal are hit with a plethora of injuries in the coming weeks.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide started at Sutton but has failed to produce an outstanding performance during his appearances in the first-team. It remains to be seen how many of the first-teamers who played against Chelsea will be at the club next season, but the likes of Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck are certainly on the periphery when it comes to being involved in senior matters. Jenkinson does, however, look set to leave if a viable offer comes in for him this summer.