Will Arsenal’s new signings allow Maitland-Niles to play in midfield?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has done a good job playing out of his preferred position. He has been a good deputy both at right-back and left-back that most people even forget that he is a natural midfielder, who is just trying to be a man for the team, by playing to his best in positions not comfortable for him. Over the years, the English born footballer has always told the world that he is more comfortable playing in the midfield.

Born in Goodmayes, London, Maitland-Niles joined the club at the age of six, and made his Arsenal debut in December 2014. Maitland-Niles made his professional debut at the age of 17 in a UEFA Champions League match against Galatasaray, replacing Aaron Ramsey at half time in an eventual 4–1 win for Arsenal. Six years later, he is still trying to find a regular spot in the team.

Over the past couple of seasons Niles, who actually trained to be a midfielder, has found himself playing as a wing back. His defensive mistakes have let Arsenal down many times in the past; mistakes that the fans always capitalize on, whenever his game is analyzed. While analyzing his mistakes, most fans forget that Niles is just a player being forced to play out of his preferred position and he is doing all he can to master that position. Should he keep on playing in defence when he is actually built to play in the middle of the pitch? Won’t it be wise to allow him play in the midfield now that Arsenal seems to have enough defensive cover for virtually all the defensive positions?

Thank goodness Arsenal brought in a left back last summer and brought in a right back and a central defender during the winter transfer window. Bringing this players will give the coach the option of pushing Niles forward and allowing him show us what he can do in the middle. With his energetic style of play and his work rate, I believe he will do well in the middle of the pack. If however he doesn’t do well, maybe he should be shipped out of the club next summer. We are Arsenal and we are proud.

Sylvester Kwentua


  1. People keep critizing Amn if he makes a mistake but rb or rwb is not his natural position,
    Wonder how auba… Harry Kane or Jamie vardy play like as fullbacks or center halves…. Give the boy a break he has talent don’t destroy him…

  2. Everyone is obsessed with him playing centre mid but he has actually been playing right attacking wing. Maybe this is his preferred position Infact I’d bet on it not centre mid

    Either way brilliant squad player and utility player. Reminds me a little of Flamini and he was decent for us. Keep AMN don’t get rid he seems happy enough, he also fulfills the English quota.

  3. Possesses real pace and energy but unfortunately he tends to get complacent at times and needs to improve his decision making.Personally I would like to see him given a chance in a box to box role or indeed as a conventional right winger ,if such a thing exists in the current game.I feel he will at last flourish under Arteta.

  4. Funny thing is if he hd not been moved back to fullback he may actually have disappeared and be playing lower league. We should remember that he is there because of systemic failure in Arsenals recruitment over many years..
    Firstly the terrible treatment of Sagna then the failures Jenkinson Chambers Debuchy and Lichsteiner. AMN is not guaranteed a place at FB or MF at Arsenal although a place as one of the 8 home grown plsyers should see him around a while yet

  5. AMN is a central midfielder. During Arsene Wenger last campaign he had a eye catching performance against Manchester-United in which he was given man of the match #Let’s give the lad another chance to show what he has in a Central-Midfield

  6. He can’t have an attacking role that’s for sure. He’s better defending so yes maybe as a backup for Torreira/Xhaka. he needs to work on his passing though and keeping hold of the ball.

  7. The assumption being he’s good enough – for me, the jury’s very much out on that score.

    However, the first thing Ainsley needs to “fix”, is body language wise giving the impression of being Ozil on Valium – drives me mad !

    As a club we are perhaps prone to investing wasted seasons on “nearly men”.

    1. @AJ
      Good thing he doesn’t have to prove anything to you…While pundits, former players and managers see what you call “bad body language” as as his composure under pressure. Stick with what you know best, whatever that is. Cuz it sure ain’t reading body language…

      1. NY_Gunner.

        ANM has nothing to prove to me, just expressing MY OPINION

        How many comments on here are fact based, or simply the writers OPINION.

        “While pundits, former players and managers see what you call “bad body language” as his composure under pressure.” ????????

        1) Complete rubbish. I’ve lost count of the times AMN lack of urgency has been commented upon, but I won’t labour the point with you giving specific examples as quite frankly I can’t be bothered.

        2) Stick with what you know best, whatever that is.

        WHAT I KNOW BEST is coaching kids from the age of 7 (in fact starting the U7’s level in my area for a long standing established side).

        Putting together a 5 a side kids team which regularly won completions entered for, this despite a Prem’ club partaking in said tournaments.

        My lad being picked up by said Prem’ club, and me being privileged to watch his development (inc’ behind the scenes) over consecutive seasons.

        I would like to think I’ve got the hang of this over the years.

        So my friend wind your neck in, read and learn on here, and stick to SOCCER !!!!!

        People like you really do wonders for healthy debate on sites such as this.

        1. Great response AJ…it always makes me smile when folk on here tell others what to say or do, without any knowledge of the person they feel they “need” to educate.

          justarsenal is an opinion based site, full of different characters and backgrounds – that’s what makes it such an interesting site to be part of.

          A little bit of humility wouldn’t go amiss, along with getting off the high horse pedestal some contributers have given themselves!!!

  8. While Maitland-Nile’s defensive short-comings as a fullback were scrutinized by Arsenal fans, what has been largely overlooked is the experience he gained and the progress that he made as a defender while playing out of position on the back line. Bringing those defensive qualities to his natural position in the middle of the park could make him a valuable addition to what has been, at times, a shambolic midfield. He will have to prove that he can be steady on the ball and a consistently accurate passer, but, if he can do those things, he has the potential to be a solid defensive midfielder. He certainly has the size, foot speed, and physical maturity to be a real asset in that position. But he will have to prove that he can handle the offensive responsibilities that come with playing in the midfield.

    1. Brilliant assessment of what his enforced learning curve has given him and the club.
      He has responded like a real professional, never moaned in public about the situation, got on with the job and, I believe he will be a valuable squad player for Mikel Arteta to have in his squad.

  9. AMN’s decision making is poor and thats an aspect of a player that is very hard to improve.You either get it in you or you dont.Its not mission impossible but he needs thorough guiding.

    I read a previous opinion that ceballos should be given a chance in the 10 role.I dont know why many dont see it,dani ceballos is not a natural 10.He is much more like a box-box midfielder or like a ball carrying CM.If he is to be played MA should change the system maybe to a 433.He was given chances as a 10 and i dont think he impressed any one in that position.He is very creative,got super passing and wonderful skillset and he kinda likes to drop deep.He is more suited to do the guendouzi role or a half winger role.

    And if the problem is ozil(which i dont see is,he is doing very well in my opinion though is very unfortunate on making assists)then i like to see pepe given a chance in the 10.He is a player who likes to be in the final 3rd as a natural 10 should be.Its not his natural position but he can be developed into a good one.But i also like him to strive as a winger.

    Finally MA know more than us so we should respect his decisions.


  10. AMN is a natural midfielder and with his experience as a full back it will improve his defensive duties in the midfield. The only thing missing is his attacking ability and the ability to retain the ball. Hopefully MA has sorted that out and AMN could be a good backup to Torreira and Xhaka. With the EUL and FA cup games coming up I am sure MA will give him an opportunity in the midfield.

  11. You make a very good point Shakir concerning the possible switch to a 4-3-3 system,in that Ceballos,AMN,Willock and Guendouzi seem to me more natural box to box midfielders than a DM or number ten.Liverpool virtually always play with a DM and 2 box to box exponents and are doing rather well .

  12. Sylvester I do not agree that “most fans forget he is being played out of his natural position”. Quite the opposite and almost all comments which criticise him say they are well aware that he is not a true wingback or full back, which of course I agree with too.
    I admire your urge to write and contribute much needed articles on this site but please do think carefully about precisely how you use phrases and sentences . ONCE YOU HAVE WRITTEN SOMETHING THAT IS PATENTLY UNTRUE, YOU ARE BOUND TO BE CRITICISED AND RIGHTLY SO.
    It is quite clear to the deep thinking fans on here that AM-N will not be much longer used in his false position, now that Arteta has a proper choice at RB and soon at LB too. I feel he will then be given a proper chance in midfield, possibly as a box to box, which is where I personally see him in the team or not at all. Possibly not this week or even next but I feel sure Arteta knows his true best position and like all players, he will be finally judged ONLY WHEN he has had a real chance there. It is then up to him but it is clear he is no full back, valiently though he tries.
    Lastly, I admire your boundless Arenal enthusiasm but writing is an art and you would be well advised to study it properly and use more restrained, less excitable language in your articles, than you do in your posts, if you truly wish to win hearts and minds.

    1. Maybe you should heed your own advice before commenting on others.

      Writing is indeed an art, one which YOU YOURSELF HAVE NOT MASTERED.

      Varied articles from different sources make this site what it is.

      1. Pirate Gunner, WHAT AN HILARIOUS MISTAKE! LITTLE DO YOU KNOW that I am a professional writer. You may not like my opinions and that is your right and everyones elses too. But as you appear to know more about my perceived lack of writing qualifications than I do myself, perhaps you would like to go into fine detail as to where you think I can improve. . You clearly think you know better than me, so go on, I challenge you!

        You might start by telling me what a gerund is and how to use it . When may semi colons be used and when not! A present and past participle too; I await your clearly “expert ” instruction!

        1. Oh jon fox it is just an observation… I have been following this site for many years (Big Up the new and old Admin) and your comments always stand out, sadly not always for the best reasons but as in my original comment do make for a good read.

          There are many too point out but proof reading your comment commenting on others lack of writing ability would be a wise place to start… haha surely misspelling Arsenal is the biggest faux pas possible here!

          Anyways… let all just be friends….. and hope Mikel and the boys can start getting the results it seems we are on the brink of!

          I enjoy writing – it’s my favourite hobby. 😉

          1. Pirate Gunner, A mere hobby for you but part of my income. I noticed you failed to answer my questions but am hardly surprised. If I failed to spell Arsenal coreectly at any time, it was clearly ONLY a typo as I know you will be aware, though that did not stop your silly comment about me not being able to spell it. Sigh!

    2. You need the advice more than Sylvester fool! you always take on him with aggressive and abusive words. why try submitting an article and allow us judge if you are perfect! i guess you want to be seen as somebody who is blunt and spits out rubbish, but the irony is, you suck at doing it! Jon Fox or whatever your damn name is, maybe somebody needs to start dishing out to you, what you dish out to people. if you can’t comment politely and in a civilised way, then quit commenting. People like you suck at making friends because no friend wants somebody who complains a lot and never sees anything good in anybody. Jon Fox, let us get the ball rolling…i will closely be monitoring your comments here and will be ready to give it back to you the way you gave it out..bring it on oloshi

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