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.