Does Maitland-Niles deserve run in Arsenal first-team?

Ashley Maitland-Niles was a rare positive to take out of last night’s 0-0 stalemate with West Ham, with the Arsenal youngster impressing in his first Premier League start of the campaign.

The defender was deployed at left-back yesterday, and while he impressed heavily with a strong performance, keeping summer arrival Sead Kolasinac on the bench is a huge ask. Maitland-Niles is versatile, and can play in a number of roles, and one possible position that isn’t secure in my eyes is at right-back.

Hector Bellerin has struggled to hit the heights of his opening seasons with our club, and has failed to earn the huge plaudits since suffering a minor injury after 18 months of first-team action. It could also be that Barcelona’s interest has distracted the young Spaniard, while his family’s return to live in his homeland will also have unsettled him.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain overhauled him as first-choice in the right wing-back role last term, before leaving to join Liverpool, and Reiss Nelson has been the only alternative used this term, although the 17 year-old is not best suited to the position, nor does he have the experience or guile to be unleashed on the regular as of yet.

In the close-season, Maitland-Niles was believed to have been called up to the senior squad on a permanent basis, and with him being right-footed, you would assume he would be able to transition from the left-back role to challenge Bellerin for his spot.

Former England international Danny Murphy was full of praise for AMN, singling him out on his display.

“He impressed me massively,” he said on Match of the Day.

“He played left-back in a four, Arsenal changed it and I still don’t know if he’s left-footed or right-footed.

“He was so comfortable on both, calm. Every time he got in these areas he didn’t panic and he always picked out a decent ball.

“Defensively we didn’t see him too much today because they dominated the game for long periods but he didn’t look uncomfortable at any time.

“His pace was good, he never dived in too often in terms of going to ground so I was really impressed with him.

“Each time he got up there I was thinking come on can he do it again. He just calmly takes his time.

“I haven’t seen enough of him to say if this is his best position or if he can play as right-back as well but tonight, left-back in a four, he played really really well.

“I think Arsenal looked better in that shape too and were a bit unlucky really, although West Ham did well.”

Does Bellerin need resting or challenging for his role? Does AMN deserve a first-team role? Could he challenge Kolasinac for his place in the side?

Pat J

Tags Arsenal Bellerin maitland-niles


  1. McLovin says:

    Not ahead of Kolasinac. Sorry lad.

    1. Vijay says:

      well he’s right footed player playing at LB position who isn’t afraid to cross, definitely ahead of bellerin

      1. Declan says:

        Also ahead of Kalasinac for me cos Kala doesn’t cross with either foot. BUT Niles really should replace Xhaka!

        1. Mark Pilkie says:

          I think as a DM in a midfield 3

        2. jon fox says:

          I am amazed your thoughtful post has received mostly thumbs down. Not from me though. AM-N IS ABOVE ALL VERSATILE AND IT IS CLEAR HE IS OF THE STANDARD WE NEED IN THE ELEVEN ALREADY AND AT HIS TENDER AGE WILL ONLY IMPROVE, provided Wenger does not ruin him by messing him about and playing him anywhere other than where he is best suited. I think, with his inate talent he could eventually play in many positions effectively in outfield, except out and out attacker or midfield creator. I don’t totally rule out CB either, in future. Currently I would play him at RB unless Bellerin soon regains his form, which right now is shot completely. He could also effectively operate instead of Xhaka, but frankly, so could my Aunt Gladys, at least better than Xhaka. Also he can stay at LB, as Kolasinac too, is below par at present.

  2. Nothing changed says:

    I was also impressed by his composure. I hope he doesn’t get ruined. I was also impressed last season by Holding and this season he has been shunned (mostly). In fact, come to think about it Chambers also impressed me when he first came on the scene but it seems all these players regress instead of progress under Wenger’s coaching (or lack there of).

  3. Robin Vanpayslip says:

    Maitland-Niles is the future!!!!

    1. muffdiver says:

      …of your wet dreams

      1. McLovin says:

        Not if I got something to say

        – Arsene Wenger

  4. shark says:

    Wenger will play youngsters just to make them ready for sale in the next years because Kroenke will ask money. And without Champions League, guess from where Wenger will bring this money?

  5. gotanidea says:

    If a natural right footer like Maitland-Niles can play like that as a left fullback or wingback, can you imagine how good he would be as a right fullback or wingback? But the wings have to be supported by better creative midfielder than what Arsenal currently have, a more mobile attacking midfielder like David Silva, De Bruyne, Isco, Modric, Denis Suarez, Turan, etc.

    1. Mitch Connor says:

      I’d take any of those players on your list lol

      1. muffdiver says:

        youd take them in every way
        …heard about u Mitch 😉

  6. Jack reacher says:

    I’d play him in midfield with jack he reminds me Micheal Thomas we have bring sead kolosinic back in or even put him right back cause bellerin has being nothing short of disastrous in every way I like him as a man but my god he has not pushed on and I must say Cech looks so old and sluggish like last nite when Hernandez hit cross bar Cech looked so slow reactions gone we need keeper and I think Forster be great for us da guy at Southampton I think ozil will stay he’s trying a lot more so would I to get 280 thousand weekly and Sanchez won’t go cause not that he wants stay but he’s form is very worrying hard take 3 weeks ago I looked at table and said we’ll finish above spuds by ten points and in top 4 easily now we’re behind them we have no consistency and manager that’s just too old I love wenger always will but it’s time and I think artery would be great choice for manager he meant be great coach maybe he’s the one get Man City so great after all he loves arsenal maybe it’s wenger plan go learn from pep and come bk when I leave take over and mersaker as he’s no2 arteta and bfg take us forward and hand picked by wenger conspiracy theory begins

    1. Eat Pie says:

      By GOD use a full stop!

  7. Teddydare says:

    Bellarin has been awful for weeks now and should be rested/dropped. Maitland-Niles would be an obvious choice to start. Too many out of form players selected every week are killing us.

  8. Salmonella says:

    Start anyone to make up the numbers.
    We play c**p football irrespective of who plays

  9. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    Let Ains further prove what mettle his made of in the game if he gets a back to back starting role in the PL in our home match against Newscatle. But we all know Le Boss with his being a hard-line manager who sticks to his believes when it comes to making his starting XI in the PL irrespective of if he should do changes to his starting team by dropping a out of form Gunner for a Gunner who has showed to be imform as he trains at the London Colney training ground and ready to start in the PL. In making his starting XI for Arsenal game against Newcastle in the PL at the Ems on Saturday, Le Boss should not bench AMN but give him his 2nd back to back start in the PL instead of starting his preferred to start Kolasinac in the Newcastle game. But we don’t know why he benched Kolas in the West Hammers game. It could be Kolas was injury scared making it to prefer starting him from the bench.

  10. Sue says:

    He played much better than I thought he would. He’ll probably play again next week in the cup

  11. Pubgooner says:

    OT: The manager and coach sit like very old withered leaves which are ready to be blown off anytime. These are on show for all to see. This what the AFC players see when playing therefore zero passion in games. Wenka should retire with immediate effect !

  12. Midkemma says:

    I think we should give him a try in CM instead of Xhaka, try a Wilshere & M-Niles partnership, AMN has pace to help get back on counters and he is a strong lad, he could surprise us and be the ideal holding CM for us.

    A player who can tackle, strong enough to muscle others off the ball, good passing and also capable of aiding in the team attack.

    What is it that we want from a CM and then have a look at his game against the hammers, he may be our answer and I would be happy if he could step up on a regular basis and perform like he did.

    1. Ted says:

      Exactly what I have always thought. I ve watched him since he started to feature for the first team and I strongly feel he would be a good CM. He has got good height, strength and pace.
      What I think he is needs to improve is concentration.. He almost cost us a late goal with a careless pass across our goal area.

  13. Iceman10 says:

    I opened this article hoping the author would consider AMN for Bellerin, and I’m glad he did. Bellerin is so complacent that it has caused him to drop in form. At this point, I even prefer Debuchy over him.

    1. jon fox says:

      Agree strongly. Trouble is that Wenger always plays his favourites and ignores bad form. Xhaka and Bellerin being the most recent and prime examples. AM-N should now be in the eleven , as he is versatile and can cover both fullbacks and DM and even make a better fist of CB than Monreal, who has not the necessary physicality to play there. Personally I would play AM-N instead of Xhaka(in fact ANYONE but Xhaka!), drop Bellerin for Debuchy and recall Kolasinac. I would drop Sanchez as he is no longer interested and therefore effectively useless and play Giroud as sub with Welbeck starting instead of Sanchez. Wiilshere MUST stay in too, even if Ramsey if fit. Sanchez is bringing team morale down weekly and should be sold in January. Talent WITHOUT true desire is poison.

  14. Jack reacher says:

    Bellerin got tapped up by Barca it went to he’s head he thought I’m da best rb in world Barca want me we didn’t sell he got hurt but forgot wat got him noticed was da hunger he had when he got into arsenal team that’s gone so too has bellerin another player that thinks he’s top class u need do it week in week out to be top player u need be hungry every week every game u need to have that in u if was me last nite I’d start series inquests in dressing room oh how I’d wish we had Tony Adams apart this club just watched 89 and makes me so sad how big a club we are and how loved we are by our fans like will we ever feel that feeling again just once if settle for a title challenge even to cum second but be it too last couple weeks we need new manager I think it will be arteta I really do but my choice would be Luis Enrique did better job than pep and bring same buzz as him just go get him and if not Enrique go all out for Martin o neill? that’s a joke but series I think Marco Silva has something about him with our players I think he get things rite and if not him there’s tuchel or Henry , bergkamp or vieria if not experienced enough then go get Carlo antellotti if not him try Wagner at Huddersfield our own Klopp Jesus there loads we should got pep he wanted it and he wanted Henry as no 2 then we messed up that we should got klopp den we messed up that like it’s time for change im 36 years age and since I was 16 I backed wenger it’s time I’m tired tipy tapy even Laurent Blanca be good I’m getting to old but please mr arsenal board chips sausages gazides anyone make the order and bring back 89

  15. Andcliff says:

    Bellerin shouldn’t be in the first team, full stop. Can’t defend, can’t cross a ball and usually takes the wrong option. I said this before the West Ham game and got 10 thumb downs. Demote him to the Europa League. Maitland-Niles looks a great prospect and should be given a chance as there is not much to lose.

    Do you think Barca still want Hector??

  16. Jide says:

    Aines played much better than Bellerin and on his weaker foot. I think he’d do well on his natural foot. So its better that he take Bellerins place for now, simply because he is playing much better and there no room for favouritism. Arsene should use the players that are in form.
    We need to drop players that are slacking and put in those that want to play!

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