Is Ainsley Maitland-Niles on his way back to Arsenal stardom?

The curious case of Ainsley Maitland-Niles by Bahiru Teka

Watching Arsenal’s domestic and Europa league campaign last season was like taking a drug that you no longer enjoy, but your mind and body had gotten so used to it, you just can’t help fend off the temptation so you take it anyways. At least that’s how it felt for me. But there was one thing I couldn’t help but enjoy watching and that was Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

When Arsene Wenger departed and Unai Emery became the new head coach, there was this wave of positivity that was galloping towards us Arsenal fans not just because a coach with an impressive CV had landed the job, it was the way he managed to get the job that made it impressive even more. As it was stated by the club’s head officials who dictated the interviews, Unai out shone the rest of the candidates mainly due to his in-depth of knowledge and analysis he had given about the squad and in particular his analysis on Maitland-Niles.

He was one of the very few standout players last season that was impressive enough when given the chance to play, and that became evident when we played against Man United at Old Trafford. We lost that game but the 21 year old midfielder put on an all-round great performance against the likes of Paul Pogba, in which after the final whistle the France International said something in his ear that seemed like a gesture of acknowledgement and appreciation for his display which I’m sure was flattering to hear for the young man, if that was the case.

Unfortunately he got off to a bad start during this season, got himself injured and ruled out for two months. It’s a frustrating thing to watch when an in-form player gets their momentum disrupted due to an injury, a scenario we got accustomed to watching long time ago as an Arsenal fan unfortunately. It’s clear that during his absence his standing in the squad has depreciated as the emergence of Matteo Guendouzi has replaced Niles as the resident gifted midfielder, and now suddenly he starts from scratch once again, becoming the player who fills in in a number of positions when needed (reminds me of Francis Coquelin) and Emery seems content in keeping it that way. That’s doesn’t mean he’s doomed to fail but it does put him at a severe disadvantage to those he is competing against for a game time.

Will he regain his form back now that he has a chance to play, even if it’s not his preferred position, and can he reintegrate himself back slowly, and make himself an integral part of the squad once again. He just needs to impress the coach and remind him again what he once saw in him?

Ethio Gooner


  1. ThirdManJW says:

    Not from what I saw the other night, he was shocking!

    I actually do think he has a lot of potential, it’s just a shame he rarely gets a chance in his favoured position. One area he really needs to improve on though is his passing accuracy. Considering how poor his passing can be, maybe that’s why Emery, and Wenger, rarely used him in the middle?

  2. Innit says:

    He has to compete with Guendouzi who is ahead of him. But that’s a good thing. Competition can push people to improve

    Guendouzi for me is going to be exciting to watch over the next several years (injury permitting). If he is this good and consistent at 19, he should be awesome at 25

    The opposite too. Look at Ozil. He did amazing in 2015-2016 with 19 assists but stopped pushing himself and He didn’t have real competition and has stagnated even before his pay rise. Mkhitaryan is a useful squad player. I like him a lot BUT isn’t the main CAM that we need.

  3. alberto gonzalez says:

    My next game line up

  4. ozziegunner says:

    AMN, as stated above was out injured for 2 months (not a minor injury). On his return he has been played out of position away from mid field and his performances have done nothing to improve his confidence. He is a young player with a good future.

  5. It is absolutely improper and unacceptable for Emerry to continue misusing a brilliant and promising talent like AMN as he has been currently doing. Remember Vermaelen guys? Used to play on god-mode as a CB but when he was played out of position at LB that was the beginning of the end for him. His performances got so horrible and embarrassing that even when he was returned to CB to salvage his talent he was simply too damaged and was never the same again. Same case for Andrei Arshavin. AMN’s agent should tell Emery to play him as a midfielder or sell him. Nobody is benefitting from AMN’s utility-man status. I bet Bellerin would be pathetic too if played as a CAM or striker.

    1. Sue says:

      Arshavin just gets drunk & rides horses home these days ?

      1. Haha. Arshavin was a great player. Too bad he was misused and ended up being mediocre.

        1. jon fox says:

          Arshavin was a hugely gifted player whose career stalled because of lack of character, fight, guts determination. All amount to the same thing. He was just a spineless individual. Too financially comfortable, as is OZIL too who fits all the above comments too. I do not defend how Wenger misused him but if he had the character he so clearly he lacked, he would have shone here, given his huge natural talent.

  6. Rkw says:

    IN a word NO … Another fan favorite who was hyped up in the twilight years of the fading wenger era but in truth is no more than decent

    1. Xxnofx says:

      You are joking right ?do you watch football or just come on here and talk absolute nonsense.because if you did you would know he is a beast when used right .beat young talent we have at the club just a shame he keeps being played as a wing back

  7. Sergio says:

    AMN was really poor against Spurs. He lacked confidence in his game. I do hope he can find form again.

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