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. “He had two incidents before he’d even been booked,” Redknapp explained.
“We spoke before the game about derby matches, a match of this magnitude, you need cool heads, don’t do anything silly. The second one with Son is silly, he is doing judo moves on the football pitch. Then he gets caught again, and then it becomes an accumulation and then it becomes a booking.
“Once you get booked, he has to be so careful because he does not want to get too tight to Son because he can run in behind you. You already have a major problem with him, he is too quick, too strong, and certainly do not get too tight to him, like this for his second yellow. That even could be straight red card because he puts his elbow up, it is a really poor decision from Rob Holding.
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“I must admit, the manager gets it wrong too. Once you lose your centre back, the first thing you do is get another one on as soon as you can. He should have got Ben White on, all of his staff are trying to figure out what to do, they are then left short and are done by a set-piece when they needed a centre back because they are not the tallest team either.”
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.”