Arsene Wenger was obviously worried about facing a battling in-form Norwich side this evening as he only named three inexperienced players in the Arsenal starting line-up. We all knew that Matt Macy was going to replace the injured David Ospina , and Reiss Nelson has been wowing all of us every time we have seen him play.
But it would seem that the third of the incoming trio, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, is the one that has impressed Wenger the most. He said before the game: “The huge advantage of Maitland-Niles, and the disadvantage as well, is that he can play everywhere,”
“Sometimes when you’re a manager, you use the comfort of being able to get him to play wherever you need him to. He can play on the flanks without any problem because he has pace, he’s an intelligent boy and I think he needs to add that little bit of extra force for 90 minutes. But he’s so comfortable on the ball, so quick, so good and can steal the ball too.
“He can also play central midfield, but I must say that he’s close now to being a regular in the first team as well. I would be on my toes if I was a regular player in the Arsenal first team. His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”
Everyone has been clamouring for Jack Wilshere to take over from the disappointing Granit Xhaka in the midfield position, but could Maitland-Niles be even more likely to make the step up to the starting XI? Mind you, Wenger used to say the same about Oxlade-Chamberlain….