Surely this must be Maitland-Niles breakthrough season?

Time for Maitland-Niles to Come of Age by AI

Talent, they say, is not enough at the top level. You need hard work, patience, composure and consistency. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has bags of talent for sure. He always has had that. Over the last three seasons, the 22-year-old has played under three different managers and in more than 5 different roles on the pitch. He is very versatile, intelligent, athletic, confident with the ball and composed for one so young. But he has sorely lacked consistency.

One can hardly blame him for that, though. Although young players are maddeningly inconsistent and have numerous highs and lows, Maitland-Niles can point to the frequency at which he’s been played out of his preferred position, and every so often in different systems. Under Arsene Wenger, he spent a majority of his time as a leftback. Under Unai Emery, he was used as cover for an injured Hector Bellerin. And now under Arteta he has played on both wings as a wingback. Different positions, different systems, different coaching.

Under Arteta, though, Maitland-Niles has reached new heights. Arteta’s definition of his role on either wings suits the young athlete to a tee. Whether it is coming into the midfield on the right or occupying central positions to open up space on the left, Maitland-Niles has been outstanding.

Against one of the best teams in the world in Liverpool, he won Man of the Match and subsequently won a place in the England setup. He has broken into a new level under Arteta, and with such a defined role in the team, it is time to start expecting him to stay there as a fundamental part of the squad.

This is Maitland-Niles season. This is the time to start seeing him performing consistently and reliably. This is a whole new world for the Hale End graduate. This season will define him as a player and as a professional. Will he take it?

Agboola Israel


  1. When Maitland Niles has played regularly as a full-back or wing-back he has looked less convincing. Maybe that was a lack of maturity or physical strength. It is impossible to overlook his performance against Liverpool and he is an Arsenal kid, and that should matter. The real question is, will he be willing to continue to fight for a place at Arsenal against the likes of Hector Bellerin, Tierney, etc. or would he prefer to drop down half-a-level and play every game?

  2. Pre Arteta I was in the “not good enough for Arsenal camp”.

    Despite a complete upturn in attitude and performances since M A’s arrival, I am still not 100% onboard with all the recent euphoria re’ Ainsley.

    Let’s hope he goes on to prove myself, and other doubters, wrong .

    However, I still say in a ” Mikel Arteta side” (we’re getting there) Ainsley would at best be a useful “squady”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love Ainsley to succeed, I simply remain unconvinced given where we want to be.

    P.S. I have taken into account the “England call up”.

    Delighted for the lad, a Gooner in there once again …. but says more about England I’m afraid !

  3. If AMN continues his good performances, like the one against Liverpool, I am sure he will shine for Arsenal. His position as a left back or left wingback allows him to come into the midfield as and when required. MA’s system has surely benefitted him. Arsenal need a player like him, athletic, composed on the ball and versatile. Wishing him the best of luck for the years to come.

  4. Left back / left wing back .

    A Three = Gabriel. (left or central).

    A four (or three) = Tierney.

    A three = Saka. (LWB)

    Midfield holding = Combo’ of Xhaka / Ceballos / Elneny* (*Partey).

    Creativity = Aouar incoming (or push Willian in behind).

    Ainsley = cover over a long hard season – he wants / needs more than this).

    Kolo = leaving.

  5. Sorry – forgot Mari at the back!!

    The only spot I can see AMN nailing down is the R/B / RWB.

    Take the money on offer for Bellerin, investing it wisely.

    Neither are defensively strong, but Ainsley may have the edge getting forward.

    However, any Bellerin money could indeed be for a direct replacement / upgrade at R/B which still does not accommodate AMN – plus by his own admission this is not his best position (although Mikel has the ability to convince him it is !!!)

    But if any Hector funds go towards the Aouar / Partey pot, Ainsley may squeeze in at R/B.

  6. Maitland-Niles has been consistent in all positions that he played in. Arteta wanted to justify something, of which Maitland-Niles proved him wrong. I would like him to compete with Xhaka in his preferred position. He’s gonna send Xhaka straight to the bench

  7. Not a snowballs chance in hell of M A replacing Xhaka with AMN ;

    Arsenal’s record in the 2019-20 Premier League when Xhaka started (and played at least 45 minutes (the eight-minute start against Manchester City doesn’t count) to when the midfielder is out of the team.

    With Xhaka starting (min 45 minutes);

    Played: 29
    Won: 13
    Drawn: 12
    Lost: 4

    Goals per game: 1.7
    Goals against per game: 1.1

    Points per game: 1.8
    Win rate: 44.8%
    Loss rate: 13.8%

    Without Xhaka starting;

    Played: 9
    Won: 1
    Drawn: 2
    Lost: 6

    Goals per game: 0.8
    Goals against per game: 1.9

    Points per game: 0.6
    Win rate: 11.1%
    Lost rate: 66.7%

    Can we upgrade here …… yes.

    By employing Ainsley in this position ….. no.

    I’m not a great one for stat’s (being more of a play from the heart man) but you can bet your life the club study their stat’s !

    We had ample opportunity to offload Granit last year ……. guess where he is !

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