STUART Holden admits he’ll be feeling the pressure at the Emirates because his biggest critic will be sat in the stands.
Wanderers take on Arsenal in North London this afternoon with an extra pair of eyes fixed firmly on the US international’s every move.
But this scouting report won’t be made by another Premier League club, or even one of his national team boss Bob Bradley’s staff checking on the midfielder’s progress for next month’s friendly against Poland.
The in-depth analysis will instead be made by the 24-year-old’s Scotland-born mum, Moira, who is jetting in from Texas especially for the game to take notes.
“My mum Moira records every minute and gives me her take after every match on how I have played,” the midfielder said. “They get a lot of Premier League coverage in America.
“I take bits of it on board. She is an avid football fan and obviously an avid fan of her three children.
“It is fantastic she is actually coming over for the Arsenal game. Hopefully we will get a victory.”
Holden watched on injured from the stands on the club’s last visit to the Emirates, when Wanderers came close to ending a 48-year wait for a league win on Gunners turf in Owen Coyle’s second game in charge.
In fact, the last time the Whites brought three points back from Arsenal, it was namesake Doug Holden who joined Dennis Stevens on the scoresheet as Bill Ridding’s side ended a three-match losing streak in January 1962, and completed a double over the Londoners that season. A famous victory did materialise in the FA Cup, when Jason McAteer, John McGinlay and Andy Walker netted in a 3-1 victory en route to the quarter finals. That set up a period in which Wanderers were considered to be Arsenal’s bogey team.
But while they have run Arsene Wenger’s side close on several occasions, recent visits had been far less profitable until last season’s 4-2 thriller under the lights.
Holden reckons the same spirit will be needed this afternoon if one of the club’s most unwanted statistics is to be laid to rest.
“We know we’re going to face a team of internationals,” said the former Houston Dynamo playmaker. “I think if you look around their team there aren’t any weak points.
“In possession they are fantastic and once they have got the ball, it’s tough to get it back.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t waste the ball and take every opportunity we have.
“We’ve got to focus on ourselves. If we go about it in the way the manager wants us to we can give them a good game.
“We’re not going there to lie down and take a beating. We have a number of experienced players who have played in big games so I don’t think we will be daunted by taking on Arsenal.”
Holden will come across another familiar face at the Emirates, with former team-mate Jack Wilshere likely to be pitched against him at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield.
The teenager impressed on loan at the Reebok last season, making friends in the process, but there will be no love lost when Stuart Atwell blows his whistle this afternoon.
“Jack’s a great player,” Holden said. “Training with him on a day-to-day basis you get to see what a bite he has.
“Everyone at the club rated him highly and we think he’s got a bright future with Arsenal and England.
“He’s become a friend of mine but on the field, he’s an opponent, and you don’t want them to have a good game.”