Maitland-Niles delivers performance that will give Arteta selection headache

One of Arsenal’s best players, as they won their first Premier League match of the season this afternoon, was Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The Englishman was a surprise starter days after he had asked to leave the club before the transfer window closed.

However, Mikel Arteta couldn’t call on Thomas Partey from the start because he had just returned from injury, while Granit Xhaka was out of the match because of a suspension.

Facing these two major absences, Arteta started Maitland-Niles in his midfield alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard.

The former West Brom loanee didn’t do badly, as he defended well and made good use of the ball on several occasions.

His performance was hailed by Mirror Football, who believe that Maitland-Niles has given Arteta something to think about with the way he went about his business in the game.

They write: “It was feared there might have been no going back when Ainsley Maitland-Niles took to social media to force an exit from the club amid interest from several clubs.

“But Arteta and the player had cleared the air talks as the Gunners boss told him that he was a part of the club’s plans moving forward.

“The problem with Maitland-Niles is that Arsenal have never been able to find his best position, but with Granit Xhaka suspended, he was given a chance in the middle of the park, alongside Lokonga.

“And his performance was encouraging as he broke up play on countless occasions and drove Arsenal forward in the other direction.

“It will certainly have given Arteta some food for thought and it will be interesting to see if he will continue to utilise him in the middle of the park.”

The England international will hope to get some good minutes under his belt in the next few Arsenal matches coming up.

Tags Ainsley Maitland-Niles

45 Comments

  1. Pjensen says:

    Lets bench him, terrible player with limitations all around

    1. zamind says:

      bench who? Niles or Xhaka?

      1. hames says:

        he is calm, and confidence, he has speed and pace, good for box to box especially in EPL. He need more time there. Better than xhaka who has lack of speed, pace, confidence, and defend

  2. big dog says:

    Lokonga played better than him

  3. Abel says:

    Rubbish performance from Niles. Very poor in midfield. Couldn’t play accurate 5 yard passes to his teamates. Did well in RB until subbed.
    It is safe to say he has no feature in midfield and he is definitely behind Lokonga his younger and newer teammate in the pecking order on merit.

    1. zamind says:

      He can do well at right back when we need to paly 3 at the back to chase games.
      We need all these options. I wonder when some of you dismiss players who are good in some aspects. a team becomes like a dry wood without alternatives when situations demand.
      We need all these options

    2. Jay says:

      Yea. Miles passes in the midfield were far from reaching targets.

  4. g arn says:

    there was one, and only one, genius on the pitch today: AMN.

  5. Kendrick says:

    @Abel, I’m not sure you were not watching from the back of the screen.
    Solid performance from AMN btw….tell me who did.better in that midfield?!!!

  6. Silentstan says:

    😂😂😂 absolute nonsense. Ineffective at best 5/10

  7. Blaze says:

    I was scared when I saw him in the lineup
    My fear was justified
    He’s no good for a wesbrom, how then for arsenal?
    Today’s overall performance from arsenal was pathetic except from the intervention of smith and partey .
    The team is too lazy to press , the genesis of Arteta’s problem

    1. zamind says:

      Indeed we only became better with the introduction of Partey and ESR. When Niles moved to the right he did well.

  8. Ben says:

    Sorry, what? I take it that the journo at the Mirror either wasn’t watching the match or doesn’t watch football often.

    In midfield, AMN was really quite poor. He had a few bright spots but lacked the intensity, energy and urgency we needed.
    He was decent for the last 30 as a rightback. But with Partey fit, AMN stands no chance of getting a midfield spot.

  9. ken1945 says:

    Well, I thought he had a decent game, especially with the going ons behind the scenes and which the fans are not privy too.

    I believe that AMN is a very good squad player, who can offer MA cover in many positions.

    As a famous frenchman (not AW!!!) once said “you need water carriers”…. or something like that and AMN fits that bill exactly.
    As he showed today of course.

    1. Reggie says:

      Agree ken, AMN did ok but not as bad as some are making out.

      1. maxx says:

        exactly reggie

      2. Patrick Onuoha says:

        Well. I think their overall performance did not encourage me. If it took them that Mich time to score, what happens when they face a club like Evarton is Liester not to talk of ManC, ManU or Liv and Chel?

        1. Patrick Onuoha says:

          Sorry about the errors

  10. A J says:

    Seriously ?

    Not wishing to jump on any negativity band wagon here, but come on let’s keep it sensible.

    Average to poor for me, but once again it seems some watched a different performance from Ainsley.

  11. Matthew says:

    Sambi played better by a country mile

    1. ken1945 says:

      Has anyone compared the two players you mention?
      This article is about AMN and, in my personal opinion, he has qualities that make him a very good squad player…. simple as that.

      1. GoalDan says:

        Hi Ken

        I suppose we all see things differently, personally I thought he did nothing wrong but did not enhance the team, especially from midfield. He lacks a spark, whether it’s aggression, a eye for goal,
        Being creative or simply to break up play of the opposition. Playing along side Sambi showed the difference between the two. He could try and model himself on, say a James Milner type of player, but I think he lacks football intelligence to pull it off.

        Nothing against the bloke, just my observation….

        1. ken1945 says:

          Two perfectly different takes on a player GoalDan… as I said, I see him as a very versatile squad player and, as you mention, James Milner comes to mind.
          Let’s see if MA can coach him and fulfill AMN’s potential.

          Good to debate in a mature way.

          1. A J says:

            Ken.

            Let’s hope Mikel can succeed with AMN, where both Arsene and Unai obviously could not.

        2. Nkanga Sam says:

          AMN and PEPE are best fit for five a side team if Arsenal has one.

  12. NY_Gunner says:

    AMN put in a decent shift. Give him more games in mid, with Lokongo and they could make a good midfield pairing, in time…

  13. Fred Umaks says:

    AMN delivered an above-average performance. I believe that once you empower a player through inspiration, motivation, and praise you get more from the player through personal self-esteem for acceptance and confidence. When you look at players whose bills are in the region of 50M pounds to 80M pounds against this performance. We need to give the devil his dues by a fair assessment grade to him of 7/10.

  14. Arsenaler says:

    Viera, Willock, Gendouzi & Saliba top games, made my day; to see AMN & Sambi had me pleased and assured WE wont lose…Positive day but not reassuring, they looked dangerous, win by one highlights it…

    Great tho, first win!

  15. A J says:

    ANM has now “played” under 3 (exc’ Freddie ) consecutive managers at our place, and figured to no large degree under ANY of them.

    The above culminating in an underwhelming loan stint at WBA.

    Go figure.

    Rather like a golfer living off a hole in one, his reference point constantly remains being called into what proved to be a F A cup winning side and performing as one would be fully entitled to expect.

    Any one of Partey, Sambi and yes Granit Xhaka WILL be selected ahead of AMN in central midfield, whilst Tomi will absolutely nail the right back slot.

    We are looking to step forward in the midst of a transitional phase, bringing the standard of Ainsley back into the side would be in my opinion be a wholly pointless and retrogressive move.

    1. Steven Lockey says:

      Few minor points:
      1> Don’t think anyone was claiming he was really up against anyone for a ‘everyone is fit’ starting spot. The fact he is decent cover at centre mid or right-back (even left-back) however does make him valuable.

      There are going to be more than a few games where players are suspended or injured or just tired when he can fill a whole in the squad that you might otherwise need multiple players to cover.

      2> Gotta remember hes not going to be 100% match fit at this point. So even if his performance wasn’t amazing, it was a solid start to build off.

      3> Hes home-grown as well so makes it easier to fulfil home-grown players requirements.

      Not saying hes going to set the world on fire or anything but just because hes not Messi doesn’t mean he can’t be a very valuable member of our team.

      1. A J says:

        Hi Steven.

        “just because hes not Messi” 😏😏

        He’s very “messy” (sic) – sloppily gives the ball away on a regular basis.

  16. kori says:

    I thought he didnt play well, was even missing at some point in the game but he did his bit although his decision making still need to improve. he is a player with pace so I think arteta should play him as the shield in front of the defense. he surely cant be worst than Xhaka.

  17. San Hao says:

    I thought he was the worst player last night… He can’t play at the center…

  18. Prof.Wenger says:

    I still believe that MA doesn’t know how to use his players properly, and one of those players is AMN. Today’s performance showed that, Odegards just returned back from creating 8 chances to nil? Saka did a lot but was lost, in front and Auba!

    We were lucky with this goal, don’t expect this to happen every week!

    1. Sean says:

      Yes, I agree with you. I believe most of our players is confuse under Arteta. Odegard seem lost and did not create anything for the Norwich game. We do not have a distinct style under MA. For the later part of the first half, Norwich is control the game and we can hardly get the ball. Once our player get possession, they quickly blast it to Norwich half and hope Auba is able to get to the ball. This is a dismal performance against a newly promoted team at our own home. Arteta Out!!!!!!!!

    2. Dele Ajibola. says:

      I absolutely agree that MA is still having issues in utilising his players capacities and potentials in recent times.

      Though one can understand that he is in the building process, like it or leave it, Arsenal have quality players, but translating to result is an issue for now.

      AM-Nice has the potential to be wonderful if given more playing time. He is also a utility player. His performance against Norwich was not bad.ori

  19. billy says:

    He was truly awful

  20. Ba Elkhirsawy says:

    He is solid in defence, carries the ball forward well, few decent passes and few sloppy moments.
    He is far from a finished article for sure but he did ok, he can improve with time. I like him, comparable to all other players in his position except Partey.
    Sambi atm seems to be improving at a faster rate but for me he gets the nod over Xhaka and ElNeny, good luck to him.

  21. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

    as I’ve said all along AMN is the kind of “luxury” player that could carve out a role, albeit a somewhat limited one, on a team with incredibly deep pockets, who care infinitely more about the potential of his positional versatility than what he might bring money-wise in the open market

    whereas for an organization in “transition”, like us, unless our business model has fundamentally changed, his continued presence makes infinitely less sense…we already have several depth players to provide adequate RB coverage and considering our propensity to roll out a formation that doesn’t entirely suit him in the DM position, as he’s a below average passer, I think it might be wise to simply sell him to the highest bidder and move on already…in fact, this probably should have happened some time ago, when his valuation appears to have peaked

    now if we’re willing to adopt a more progressive version of the 4-2-3-1, where we allow Partey to play much farther up the pitch far more often, knowing that AMN will focus primarily on providing defensive zone coverage, I’m open to that possibility

  22. Mat says:

    Lets remember AMN was doing very well at some point until MA decided not to use him. More matches for him and he will regain his confidence back. The problem is that MA is not sure how he wants his team to play and has taken too long to even know his best 11.

  23. Goonster says:

    He was absolutely average.
    Can’t play in midfield and poor defensively.

    I seriously don’t see what this kid is good at? People have been going on about him since 2015 and still does nothing when afforded a chance.

    Poor in possession, just a basic basic player most times I see him play for us.

  24. Yossarian says:

    AMN did ok compared to Xhaka, but is miles-off the quality that is really needed in that position. The team looked much better when Partey came on. AMN is a handy squad/utility player, but I doubt it will be more than another 1 or 2 windows before additions are made to the squad & new players settle-in enough to render his usefulness fairly redundant, apart from times of extreme injury/unavailability for main players.

  25. Mac says:

    Positives=He player a few nice passes
    Negative=He player a few stocking passes. He didnt look like getting sent off at any minute .
    Verdict = better than xhaka

  26. Gunner4life says:

    AMN represents and is a worthy squad player. His performance was decent and increased his match fitness. Great to see Partey return and for MA to use the squad. Only he didn’t need to put on Cedric. Odegaard should have been hooked. His average performance needs to improve.

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