The challenge facing Ainsley Maitland-Niles now Hector Bellerin is back

Hector Bellerin return is a challenge that Ainsley Maitland-Niles has to confront

Personally, this writer has always rated Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He is an immense, if not exciting, talent. People severely underrate what it took for the 22-year-old to adapt to a new position and make it his own. First at left-back, then at right-back. The only reason Niles has been so successful at filling up those holes in the squad is because of his athleticism, confidence and his extremely sharp football instincts and IQ. It might be unpopular but according to his performance data from last season, Ainsley Maitland-Niles performed seriously well for a makeshift fullback.

This season began with a bang from him. It is difficult to forget Ainsley Maitland-Niles turning on the turbo to steal a sloppy pass from Newcastle’s Jetro Williems and send over to Aubameyang for the winning goal. But like most of the squad, his performances began to decline. The more he seemed to be lacking, the more impatient fans grew with him. Until Calum Chambers eventually took his spot.

Arteta came and immediately gave Ainsley Maitland-Niles a new lease of life. Playing as an inverted fullback in the midfield, Arteta allowed Niles to showcase his basic midfielder qualities while locking down the right wing. In fact, for many, he was the most impressive player under the new coach. 

But Hector Bellerin, struggling with an injury issue, was always lurking in the background. Apart from the fact that he is one of the team captains, Bellerin is a very good right-back. He would pose a serious threat to the new-found stability Ainsley had enjoyed under Arteta. The only issue might be his potential loss of pace.

Against Chelsea, Hector Bellerin dismissed those doubts and showed why it would always be a tough task to displace him from the squad. As much as Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been great under Arteta, Hector Bellerin might be even better in terms of experience and leadership on the field and off it. And that is Ainsley’s dilemma, his battle to fight. 

Top teams always have competition for places in their team and it is a benefit. It keeps everyone on their toes, everyone focused and doing their best. And we should very much welcome this new rivalry between Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin.

An article by Agboola Israel


    1. AMN can be a good utility player. I disagree there is nothing outstanding about him. I think his talent is his ability to adapt. I’m thinking along the lines of players like james Milner. If he cam keep his head down he can become that player that can support his manager for any role. It’s not conventional and the usual way but even steven Gerrard played all over the pitch at some point. Let’s give credit to a young star who has saved out arse are lb and rb over the past 3 years

  1. RB is not AMNs best position,just like LB is not Saka’s. But while know where Saka could contribute very well, it is not clear just exactly what AMN’s best position is. Somewhere in midfield? Whose place could he take there? He has good football attributes, but outstanding he is not. If he is not given a chance to make a particular position his own, he will remain a fringe player that is handy to have as a standby. This is one that may personally benefit from a transfer, whether we fans like it or not.

    1. @SAGooner
      AMN is a better defender and has a better recovery time than any of our current midfielders.

    2. AMN has always maintained he is a winger. I agree though, he should move. He has been misused as a midfielder, left back and now right back.

      I really wonder how the coaches expect him to stay motivated, when Vermaelen was asked to cover as a left back, he said he felt zero satisfaction being in the team. He ended up losing his confidence becoming garbage eventually.

      Time for AMN to get his chance on the RW. If Reiss Nelson who is utterly hopeless can be given chances, AMN deserves the same.

      1. Hey, QD… did you see Bendtner is going to have his own reality series, with his Missus.. as they’re Denmark’s answer to the Beckhams apparently 🤣

        1. 😂😂 He can now wear and broadcast his paddy power underwear to the whole world in peace. How long do you think the show will run before they cancel it? Ahaha.

          1. 🤣🤣 and won’t he just love it?!!
            If I had my way, it wouldn’t even hit the screens 😜 I’ll give it a month haha…

      2. AMN has improved alot since the arrival of Arteta personally i rate him highly as a defensive right back, Bellerin however is a better wing back in my opinion, so keep both of them, at least now we have options on the right.

    3. Sometimes even players don’t know their best position, just because AMN think he is a midfielder doesn’t mean he is not a right back, take Henry as an example we got him in 2001 from Juventus as a winger who could not make the first eleven at Juventus what Wenger then played him as a striker and the rest as they say is history

  2. It’s a good news Berrilen is back, talk of a challenge for Ashley- Niles, it’s even better to have two players for one position for 2 reasons 1- For competition among them, play with passion and 2- substitution Incase of injury or under performing. Arteta know what to do because he is a great coach

  3. The nice thing is for us fans who trust Arteta, that the manager knows these young players pretty well from his time at Arsenal and seems to be a believer in playing players to their strengths. AMN has a good chance to be part of the future of this club and play a meaningful role.

  4. No one will deny that AMN has good football qualities and could be a valuable squad member. But he is still showing that lack of concentration which causes him to do something crazy or stupid. Improve on that and we have a good rotation player who can replace out of form players.

  5. Niles and Bellerin brings somerhing different to Arsenal style of play. It is good any of the two players can be chosen based on the coach tactics for a particular game. Bellerin and Niles have different skills set. One is a trained midfielder while the other is an attacking full back.

  6. Neither are good enough for a serious defensive unit … bellerin makes marginally fewer mistakes but will need to address this weakness eventually

  7. Niles should be moved to the middle now. He has learnt how to defend playing as a right back for close to 2 years now. Its time to play him in his proper position in midfield. He has pace too and would be able to match pacy opposition midfielders for pace and win balls back for the team.

  8. This lad has three of the main attributes of a modern footballer i.e. pace stamina and physique. His form and confidence dipped under Emery but he now has a manager who knows how to coach younger players and gives them opportunities to play if they are good enough. As ex Academy I would love him to establish himself in the first team.

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