Ainsley Needs to Think Again by AI
Most of us can feel something for Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Bred all his life at Colney Centre to play in a prestigious role in the middle of the pitch for Arsenal, his first few performances there were the highlights of his life. Against Southampton and Manchester United, Ainsley played quite well.
Then the long-worn story of Kolasinac’s unfortunate injury. He was hurriedly slotted into the position and he performed admirably well, thanks to his abundant athletic qualities and a calm persona on the pitch. And when Bellerin got injured, he had to slot in there, too.
Since that time, the 22-year-old has been stuck at fullback. He has been decent, for his age and his training. One to keep an eye on.
But when things get tough, when he makes a mistake and the fans complain, Ainsley seems reluctant to accept responsibility. There’s a hint of a half-heartedness, some sort of unsatisfaction, some note of rebellion. ‘I am just doing this because I have to’, sort of thing.
Well, as it turns out, the world of football is a cruel, unforgiving world. Sacrifices need to be made. Matches need to be played. And if you are not up to the task, you quickly fall by the wayside. Ainsley might need to realize that many of the world’s best full-backs got converted to the position from other areas. Jordi Alba, Hector Bellerin, Lukas Pizeciek, David Alaba, Phillip Lahm, and now, most recently, Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Arsenal needs some of that firmness now and Mikel Arteta is the right manager to dish it out. Ainsley had been really good under him. The inverted fullback role, which is a compromise between midfield and the wide area, fitted him to a tee, bringing out the best of his qualities and instincts on the ball. Now, suddenly, at the height of his pomp, Ainsley has lost his place to a crocked Hector Bellerin just returning from injury. We haven’t caught a peek of him in action since then.
If his continued absence extends into the off-season, then Ainsley Maitland-Niles would lose the faith of the club, and would likely have to be sold to another club that can presumably satisfy his own wishes. That club is most likely to be a step-down and when you consider the opportunity that he has had here at his boyhood club to seize a starting position, it would have been a shame.