Admittedly, Hector Bellerin has been on a wonderful run of attacking form. His performances against Sheffield and Manchester United won us 3 points in those games. And he could have done even more had Saka converted the big chance he gave him late in the game against Leeds.
Bellerin’s inclusion has been justified and rewarding. But what about Maitland-Niles?
Niles can play as fullback and wingback on both flanks and can play very well in that specialized underlapping role that Bellerin is excelling in. And he has played to good effect for Arteta whenever he was called upon.
Maitland-Niles admitted a few weeks ago that Arteta had persuaded him to stay and fight for his place in the team. He told Goal: “There was a lot of speculation going around, but I chose to stay at the club I love,”
“I am happy with my decision and I am sure the manager is happy that I stayed as well.
“It was about the manager having faith in me and him letting me know what’s going on and the situation. He did that and everything was fine in the end.
“He just installed a lot of confidence in me that I had in myself, but maybe I didn’t know how to bring out. He has helped me do that. We work well as a team together and he knows how to get the best out of me, and now I am learning to get the best out of myself more regularly now. I can only thank him along the way and carry on the run of form we have had.”
So what gives? Maitland-Niles is a confident young lad who has already had a proper taste of first team football with both Arsenal and England’s squad. He won’t be satisfied with the bench for too long. He is too talented, too young, too good. And yet he can dislodge neither Tierney or Bellerin on current form.
Clearly enough, at the moment, his chances will come in cup competitions and if Tierney or Bellerin are injured or need rotation, he will be asked to fill.
This is the situation Niles has to be content with. For now.