Could Maitland-Niles keep Bellerin out of the Arsenal starting XI?

Everyone has been calling for Arsenal to buy a new right-back all season after Stephan Lichtsteiner failed to live up to expectations and then Hector Bellerin was cruelly injured, leaving the Gunners with no confirmed right-back left in the squad. But Emery then turned to Arsene Wenger’s Mr Versatile and made Ainsley Maitland-Niles into a definitive right-back whereas before he was just considered to be a makeshift solution.

The youngster has really grown into the role, and it seems like he has accepted this as his main position and is fully expecting to keep competing for the role when Bellerin returns from injury early next season. “I’m still adapting to [the position] but the manager and coaching staff are helping me a lot at the moment,” Maitland-Niles told Football London.

“My best qualities are going forward, creating. I’ve spoken to the manager and he seems to think the same as me.

“When Hector comes back maybe it’ll be a good challenge for me and him.

“It all depends on how he comes back. Hector is a fantastic player and I wouldn’t want to force anybody out of the team, it’s more about healthy competition with him.”

The 19 year-old has been extremely impressive lately and I can’t see him being left out of the side now, but Bellerin himself was doing very well before his injury as well. But which would you choose if they were both fit and well right now?



  1. I believe so, because Maitland-Niles is fast, skillful, has high stamina and he has played in several different positions at EPL matches

    Bellerin needs a strong competitor, because he tends to avoid high risks as he gets older

    However, I’d prefer Arsenal to get a new RB or promote a youngster, so Maitland-Niles can be Ramsey’s replacement in the center

    1. Agree totally.AMN proved at Old Trafford last season he is a CM.This player is a classic example of a youngster who can operate in numerous positions and is rarely given an opportunity of playing in his most natural role.We only have to remember how the Ox was constantly given different positions to play in because he was so versatile.
      Bellerin proved before his injury he was getting back to his early form and was easily the best RB/RWB at the Club.AMN should look to keep playing there for the rest of this season and really push for a CM role when back at pre season

      1. Poor Ox finally got his chance to play as a CM at Liverpool but eventually got injured

        I think Maitland-Niles could be excellent in a two CM and one DM formation, due to his aggression

  2. most definitely it’s a YES. If AM-N continues the trajectory he has, then we could see bellerin sold – in so far as home economics go (by it i mean value for money) bit’s hardly inconceivable is it? tho most will argue that AM-N is not a RWB it’s beyond doubt (now) that he can do a sturdy job there when required to. Not that i’m saying it will (happen) but I suggested this 5 or 6 post back when i first pointed out AM-N is unlikely to be considered our first team CM but in comparison to bellerin he may not possess the speed but he’s a far more formidable and robust option in defence, period.

    Some say he’s not the finished article yet, but that can also be aimed at bellerin. Somehow i really don’t see AMN as being the longterm replacement for bellerin – i expect one or the other will leave eventually to be honest. on the otherhand he’s a fellow spaniard which may endear him to UE all the more.. we will just have to see how things unfold.

      1. @Jon fox – you already i’m a great admirer of your contributions to this site – in fact i look out for them on a daily, so thanks JF.

    1. I’m glad you’re not in charge of transfers, we would end up with Bellerin being sold and a CM for RB and when he gets injured as we have no other RB… then what? Throw Leno there for the giggles?

      Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Elneny. <– That quality enough to compete for EPL? Really?

      I'd want Arsenal to push the boat out for a real RB to compete with a RB. Win-Bassaka is a name on peoples lips at the moment. we could sell Elneny and free up more wages in CM, we could sell Xhaka and replace him with a freebie Rabiot along with promoting AMN to CM.

      So we could end up looking like:
      Torreira, Guendouzi, Rabiot and AMN.

      With 30ish mil towards Win-Bassaka….

      1. @Midkemma
        Perhaps at times you suffer from some kind of paralysis of analysis – in my narrative i based it on home economics. I suggest when looking at the productive capabilities of these two and same time looking at generating funds (as we all know UE will have to do) then bellerin and his capability will come under scrutiny. For you he may well represent the future whereas i’m convinced that AM-N performances bring a new dynamic, one that may see bellerin sold. You may see bellerin as irreplaceable while I see it that tho he’s a speedster, he largely lacks the presence of maitland-niles and i see his position is not guaranteed provided AMN continues to excel.

        Finally, you may revel and glee that im not in charge at arsenal fc but the scary thing is your comments suggests you conceived your own [*bogus reality] that YOUR opinions are worthy of the arsenal coach roll? guess your informed opinions somehow better the rest of ours in these threads..? 😀

  3. Any player who can play in several positions and do well, as AM-N is doing, actually harms himself in one way, though in another way he helps himself get into the eleven SOMEWHERE but not necessarily where he is best suited for his own good. That being said, AM-N has firmly proven he should remain at RB while Bellerin is out. I have never much liked Bellerin, as to me he simply cannot defend and he is physically not tough enough for my liking. I always like physically tough and strong players to defend, though other fans may differ. Not necessarily giants but not easily out muscled, as Bellerin so often is. AM-N IS powerful and all other things being equal would be my personal choice as RB , even when Bellerin is fit. I suppose it comes down to whether or not one considers a defenders job is PRIMARILY to defend or not. I do!

    1. “I suppose it comes down to whether or not one considers a defenders job is PRIMARILY to defend or not. I do!”

      Depends on the manager, not the player.
      If Emery wants wingers for fullbacks then def fullbacks will be overlooked for more aggressive ones.
      Emery is telling his fullbacks to attack, he has done it with us, he has done it at PSG and he has done it at Seville… I do not think Emery would know what to do with Dixon or Winterburn… Actually, he may try turning them into ball playing CBs XD lol

      I think Bellerin could prove many doubters wrong, he needs to keep training hard (when fit) and listening to the boss, he has the potential and just needed the right man to help him reach it. Wenger had declined but Emery has done wonders in coaching.

      I hope you would change your mind on Bellerin if he shows regular improvement and that you do not let your dislike for a player come before the club that we all love and cherish. ^.^

      1. midkemma, I do not “dislike” Bellerin in the slightest. He is actually a lively and engaging personality with lots about him. I like that in people in general and footballers are no exception to that rule. I tend not to take to dour and monosyllabic types, which he is definitely not. What my post actually SAID was that I did not “like” him as a defender(the word “defender”, not as a human being , as I thought, being understood.) Clearly not though!

        As I explained, rather fully I felt, I do not like defenders (as footballers that is and ONLY that) who are not physically tough and who are easily out muscled. Above many Gooners I prize the art of defence and consider it equally vital to having a great attack or midfield and top keeper. Manifestly, we have not a defence anywhere near the quality of all our top rivals, yet, DESPITE that, because of Emerys fine management and ability to overcome the huge hurdles of defensive injuries and Kroenkes stingyness, we lie a single point from being third. Do you think I should credit Mustafi for that fact? Cos I do not! I credit the man responsible and is why I am among the most pro UE Gooners on this site. The preposteros JAH SON would have UE sacked. I repeat , for emphasis, that I firmly believe the prime job of all defenders is to defend, EVEN THOUGH I also understand that modern wing backs are auxiliary wingers very often. That never stopped Kenny Sansom and Ashley Cole from being terrific at BOTH. But they both had supreme talent and sadly NONE OF OUR CURRENT WINGS BACKS get anywhere near either of them. In my view , until we once again get a first class defence we can never hope to seriously challenge for
        the title. That should be obvious. Lastly, IF Bellerin can vastly improve his defending , then of course I wll change my mind in the light of events. BUT I believe in letting the event happen first, before I ever change my mind. I am easily old enough to remember when the great Bob Wilson(my all time Arsenal hero) and PETER SIMPSON WHO BOTH PLAYED IN THE 1971 DOUBLE WINNING TEAM WERE HOPELESS WHEN YOUNG AND BOTH BECAME GREATS IN TIME. So time will tell. Or not , as the case may be!

      2. @Midkemma
        You misread and misunderstand text, logic, context and careful reason even when presented in simplest terms before you …strange fellow. Maybe we ought to replace UE and instead look at ways to replace his focus, diplomacy, tact, resources and wherewithal with your own?

  4. Yes but we ideally need a better RB than Niles and Bellerin and a better CM than Bellerin, Xhaka or Niles.

    Niles is very good for a 21 year old but needs more experience

    But central midfielder, winger, CB comes first in terms of summer transfers

  5. One good game and you guys are over the moon, he’s good though, but i surely knows UE will neva choose him as ramsey replacement, cause he has neva play him at the role even when ramsey is not available, get wan bisaka, let AMN be Oshea for us.

  6. I keep hearing people going on about AMN should be played in his preferred CM position etc.
    But how come 2 managers so far are hesitant to play him there? Wenger and Emery both seem to think otherwise.

    These 2 managers know more about him than most of us and they both don’t seem to agree with those that keep asking for him to be played in his supposed best position (CM).

    I think we as fans get too over excited about stuff.

    Just a thought.

    1. “Arsene Wenger says playing Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back will help the youngster develop new aspects to his game ahead of a potential career in the centre of midfield.

      In the absence of Nacho Monreal and an injury to Sead Kolasinac, the 19-year-old has been a regular starter on the left side of Wenger’s defence, both in a four-man unit and as a wing-back alongside three centre-backs.”

      So strange that Wenger would play someone in a different pos to give them experience… Not like he ever did that right?

    2. Just like Henry would have been kept winger, wing back…Damn if a player thrives in other areas of the pitch, take them there and forget they used to play in other areas…

  7. One swallow dosn’t make a summer, but the performance of AMN last season at Old Trafford in CM was outstanding for one so young.He does well as a stand in for Bellerin, but like Phil I feel he can make it big time in central midfield where his athleticism ,stamina and composure will make him an ideal box to box player to replace Ramsay.I would love Emery to settle on a 4-3-3 system like Man City and Liverpool next season and with a midfield three of Torreria.AMN and Guendouzi I would be confident of at least holding our own in midfield against these formidable opponents.You may feel this midfield three lacks creativity but Liverpool have proved this season that you can be successful without silky midfielders like Ozil.

    1. I don’t think it would lack creativity, this is assuming we have top fullbacks who can play as wingers along with attackers who can make stuff happen (Like Laca).

      I’d like to see that CM as well Grandad, may I also add in Rabiot to the list of names?

      Mainly with the idea in mind to rotate and give rests. I’d see Rabiot, Guendouzi and AMN as the B2B players ahead of Torreira who is the DM… and to be honest, next season Chambers is back and he has done very well at DM.

      DM: Torreira and Chambers.
      B2B: Rabiot, AMN, and Guendouzi.

      If Arsenal could, I’d look to buy 2 LB and move Kola as a B2B, it might just cover that weakness he has in defending.

      If the team gets any more muscle then we could start looking like a Rugby team lol.

  8. That is a very good question Admin, only now when I’m thinking about it, he might actually make one hell of a fullback esp if he keeps on improving. And I’m sure Bellerin is watching proceedings very keenly. He mentions here that he and his boss feel that he is better in his attacking game right now, over his defensive one presumably. So it is good that he gets this chance to concentrate on his defensive game. If he keeps up the type of form that he has shown in his last couple of performances, then at-least we can save money by not bringing in another player to push for Bellerin’s spot. Anyone who does not like the idea because they want to see him playing centrally, he will get a shot there at some stage, esp if he just gets on with things and does what the manager asks of him.

  9. No AMN will not replace bellerin at rb. Why? Because it would be a waste to have 2 good players fight for the rb when AMN can play cm or winger better than he plays rb. I would prefer to have both players on the pitch at the same time.

  10. Call me strange but I’d like a RB at RB… Not make do with a CM because the CM is top quality and capable of playing other roles.

    I’d like AMN to be in the middle and for Arsenal to buy a RB.

    I want Arsenal to have a solid CM, one which can dominate games and one we can trust in to build from.

    All we have in CM at the moment is puppydog energy. Guendouzi is the biggest culprit here, he and Iwobi are a right pair of headless chickens. They can learn and I hope they do, they have shown the right passion, I want players with that passion to succeed but I refuse to be blind to reality.

    I honestly think we need a cool head in the middle and someone capable of breaking up any attack while being able to drive the team forward from the middle. CMs like that cost a whole lot more than full backs who can attack as well.

  11. In short, the answer is a resounding NO! If AMN was the 1st choice RB, would that not be a colossal waste of a Bellerin?

    I’m agreeing with Ackshay here in saying both players should be in the team and I think AMN will serve as a utility player until the summer transfer business is concluded.

    By then, our loyal and dearly beloved Aaron ‘Rambo First Blood’ Ramsey will be gone? so if we get a shiny new RB from EBay or Amazon, I suspect AMN will get to play more centrally. However, if we get a decent enough CM from Harrod’s then I suspect AMN will be a LB/LWB RB/RWB for a good while yet.

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