Can Maitland-Niles oust Granit Xhaka from Arsenal role?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his first start of the season in a midfield role last night, and thoroughly impressed in his ‘natural position’ according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The versatile youngster has been amongst our most consistent performers this season, and has already ousted Sead Kolasinac from the starting line-up despite the summer signing quickly becoming a fans favourite earlier in the campaign.

AMN is apparently a midfielder however, despite receiving the plaudits in his more regular role at wing-back or left-back, and he could well target a place at CM.

Wenger insisted he was happy with his youngster’s performance centrally, in which he helped us to a comfortable 3-0 away win.

“It’s his natural position,” Wenger said of Maitland-Niles. “I think 80 per cent of his game was good, and I feel he can win the ball back well.

“Defensively he’s quite strong, he’s got good acceleration and it’s a positive game for a first run.”

Xhaka is the more defensive option who is regularly selected to play alongside creative talents Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere, but the majority of fans have not been convinced by the Swiss international, and I’m not sure any would complain would he be dropped to the bench.

That could well open the door for Kolasinac to take over his previous first-team role, and he is one player I would like to be playing more, with his determination, fight and true grit needed.

Should we drop Xhaka in order to move Maitland-Niles to midfield?

Pat J

Tags Arsenal maitland-niles Wenger


  1. Phil says:

    FFS I could oust Xhaka from that side.

    1. John0711 says:

      i could name 100,000s who could replace Xhaka
      Arteta did better and was criticised
      Coq did
      we have needed a DM for years so why has that old geriatric not found one

  2. andcliff says:

    We are not going to qualify for the CL so Wenger should experiment with Maitland-Niles in a CM role. He has great pace and a good physique and work rate, I know he’s young but worth the risk.

    Very good prospect and Arsenal through and through. But it won’t happen because AW can’t accept he has made a costly mistake with Xhaka and drop him. Logic says he has had every chance to impress over a long period and has been erratic and downright sloppy at times, but then you can’t accuse AW of being logical!!! Roll on 2019.

    1. Phil says:

      Bang on comments

  3. gotanidea says:

    Maitland-Niles is faster, so he can pressurize and retrieve the lost ball quickly. Let’s see his passing and vision as a DM in the next games

  4. Geekaybee says:

    Wenger thinks that CM is his natural position? Does that mean he will start playing him as a winger?

    1. gotanidea says:

      He was good as a left wingback, so he could be a good winger as well. Hope to see him play in a more forward position one day

    2. AndersS says:

      🙂 Probably

  5. Vlad says:

    In all honesty, AMN was poor yesterday. Based on what I’ve seen from him so far this season, he’s nowhere near ready to replace Xhaka or anyone else for that matter. He would probably benefit from going out on loan somewhere.

    1. gotanidea says:

      He was poor when he played as a left wingback for the first time. But some kids, like him, can be trained to thrive in other position.

      He did not play well as a DM last night, as he did not seem to be able to use his pace and skills in the center. But he is still one of the most talented youngsters Arsenal have currently

    2. Phil says:

      Xhaka has been poor all season.Send him out on loan and put AMN in.Could the boy do worse?Not likely to but he has enormous potential if played in his natural position and given a good run in the side.If that doesn’t wake up Xhaka to what is needed to play for a big?club then flog him in the summer

      1. jon fox says:

        We need to flog Xhaka anyway and ASAP, irrelevant of whether or not AM-N replaces him. Xhaka has been a disastrous mistake and only bad managers like Wenger do not cut their losses and put mistakes right. He keeps proven duds for years; Walcott being the prime example.

  6. Vlad says:

    To Admin: People are dropping like flies here. I remember 100+ comments after the games. Now, without thumbs up/down, there’s barely 20-25% of that. I used to post daily, and pretty much on every single topic. I’m slowly but surely phasing out, and I know I’m not alone. You’re risking losing the entire audience, and I’d hate for this place to just go away and disappear. There’s gotta be a solution.

    1. gotanidea says:

      Why bother, we can make our own fans site

    2. Godswill says:

      Am having and noticing the same problem.
      Admin this site is fun. Return all what made this site very interesting.

    3. jon fox says:

      Vlad, I am soldiering on FOR A LIMITED TIME in the , probably , vain hope they may soon return and improve the site. No recent comment from the Admin though; he is clearly a close relative of Kroenke and has the same arrogant silence, when questions are asked. But even I am losing patience and am actively lookong for a better fan site. PERHAPS I SHOULD START ONE.

      1. Phil says:

        Jon-you must not give up writing your posts.your comments are too important and relevant to lose ?????? There you are Jon it’s a triple thumbs up from me

    4. G-Rude says:

      @Admin. Shall we have a vote?

    5. G-Rude says:

      Are you sure? Because of your comment I just counted how many comments on this post. 39 so far on a Friday night.

  7. Chokulate says:

    This is the problem we have with regard to player hype @ arsenal. Players just in a single game wonder, and hey yall go ” he’s gonna oust xhaka”. Interesting piece to read, publications like this confirm Wenger as our head coach from 1996 To end of time.

    1. Ackshay says:

      1St game wonder lol kid playing well in the leftback role well before this game. We knew he had attacking talent but I was impressed by his defensive commitments. Sure he will make mistakes but at least he will run back to correct them. How many games where the attacking midfielder scored against us on a 2nd ball and xhaka was no where to be found. Worse is not its not his lack of pace but his lack of wanting to track back runners.
      My dogs would make better dm than xhaka just put them in the middle and watch them harrass every opponents. Per was slower than xhak but he compensated it otherwise whereas xhaka doesn’t give a shit sometimes. Man at least try even if failing instead of picking your nose or walking like he is some Messi or cr7.

  8. Sri Aurobindo Rajinath says:

    Maitland-Niles, Xhaka and Elneny are the reason Arsenal are such poor team. Not one of them is good enough to play in a quality top side. From the days of Viera/Gilberto/Petit we have had poor central midfield pairings. We also drastically need s to Cb.

    1. bran911 says:

      This is true, we used to have Gilberto who does all the dirty work and Vieira who does the rest. Very complete midfielders, but now we have soft and pretty Xhaka who can’t even run fast, Elneny the less I say the better, Wilshere is average and not a DM, Ramsey is the next Ozil, getting terrorized by a single Dembele.. could Dembele do what he did when facing Vieira and Gilberto?

      1. Ackshay says:

        Lol check your eyes man Ramsey didn’t play against spurs. Just another blind hater surely a wenger God fan.

  9. Innit says:

    I musy have said it a million but i will continue. We are good at CAM/#10 but at the back of central midfield we are too WEAK. Xhaka and Eleny are not good enough and Ramsey/Wilshere are injury prone. Adelaide is not the answer. Its the cheap way. And he is inexperienced

    Coquelin was actually quite useful when Cazorla was playing. And Cazorla OWNED his position. I miss him so much. So did Rosicky and Viera.

    Xhaka, Eleny wouldn’t start for Everton let alone The Top 5 teams. Id prefer having Gueye and Schneiderlin to Xhaka and Eleny lol

  10. Grandad says:

    I wish fans would appreciate that Elneny at £5m represents very good value for money.He was bought as a back up player unlike Xhaka and Mustafi who were so called stars costing £70m who were going to take us to a higher level.If Arsenal were to sell Elneny they would at least double their money whereas we would take a huge hit on Xhaka and Mustafi.In fact I very much doubt it we would recoup 50% of our outlay.Enemy will never be a great player but he is the type of dependable, hard working standby that every top team needs.Please get off his back.

    1. Eat Pie says:

      100% agreed

      1000 thumbs up


    2. jon fox says:

      Grandad, If you look at it ONLY in a price we pay and price when we sell, then you have a point. BUT we are a football club and want to win top honours . With rank poor players of Elneny’s standard we have not a hope in hell. If you just want to make a profit, why not go into the property business or buying second hand cars? etc etc. Elneny and all the other sub par players we play are stopping us doing the job we all pay huge money to support, if not in actual ticket money, then indirectly through Sky/ BT etc. Do think more deeply!

    3. Midkemma says:

      Transfermarket has ElNeny fee at £11.25 million.

      BBC reported the fee to be around £5 million, other media reported a fee around £7 million…

      Reports from an agent claiming to have been part of the deal also claims that the deal was over £10 million.

      I personally doubt it was as cheap as some media was saying, that may have been our initial offer but we all know our board offers much less than what teams are willing to part with players for…

  11. Break-on-through says:

    It was not a great performance by Niles, lets be frank about it. But it was his first game in there with these players and you have to allow some slack for that. It makes a huge difference when you are playing week in and out with lads games you know almost as well as your own. Xhaka has had too many poor performances, I reckon he’s one of the biggest reasons we missed out on CL football last year and are doing even worse this time round in the league. Niles would deserve some patience if Wenger were to bring him in now, I’m not sure this is the right time to introduce him with our defenders playing poorly and having a large attacking threat on the pitch. Chambers might be the safest option just for the time being. Niles has great qualities about him though, and that always shines through.

    1. Midkemma says:

      I think AMN suffered from a lack of leadership in CM, ElNeny ran around a lot but I do think he and AMN was kinda trying to do the same thing at times, I really want to see AMN and Wilshere partnership.

      If they can develop good communication…

      Jack is an intelligent footballer, he and AMN appear to have skillsets which could compliment each other and that thought makes me want to see it put in practice.

  12. GB says:

    At last AMN played in his natural position and I thought he played well. He covered the back four and and made numerous interceptions and tackles. Others who impressed me were Ospina, Elneny and Ozil.

  13. Break-on-through says:

    Next time there is a G14 meeting I expect the CL qualifying category being opened up to the top 5 league positions from biggest leagues.

    1. GB says:

      To bad when we will finish 6th.

  14. Eat Pie says:


    1. Eat Pie says:


      1. G-Rude says:

        I like this when people appreciate a comment and show it in person rather than the anonymous keyboard warriors

  15. Midkemma says:

    When watching the game I was thinking that maybe it would have been better if Xhaka had partnered AMN, neither ElNeny or AMN really had the leadership quality in CM.

    Wilshere and AMN is a partnership I really want to see, Wilshere is a leader and we needed a leader in CM, we will need a leader in CM.

    Xhaka has his faults but it would have been interesting to have seen him and AMN against the weaker opposition, Xhaka done well with a DM alongside him and Wenger has been trying to get him to be a DM which is wrong… Curiosity. Could AMN be the type of player needed to get the best out of him and to see the Xhaka before he came to us (with the bonus of not as many cards).

  16. John says:

    That was his first game in the defensive midfielder position………give him a break………..judge him in two years………….the kid has excelled at several positions to earn the trust of his team and coaches…….now he needs games to grow…….including bad days……injuries………and his mother………I feel by the end of the season he will be our DM…………listen to his interviews……….to get an insight into his ambition………he is a young Nacho………quiet and work hard………..

    1. Rkw says:

      Yep two years sounds right but next year should not be at arsenal …need to bring a solid and more experienced DM with break up and passing abilities … Perhaps the guy at s’hampton lamina is worth a closer look at …

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