With the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and now Alexis Sanchez all part of the first-team squad, being a young winger at Arsenal is a rather unenviable predicament.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi, however, are determined to make the most of their chance to succeed at the club, however slim that may be.
The pair were amongst Arsenal’s star performers in their run to the Semi-Finals of the FA Youth Cup last season and are now seeking to build up as much experience as possible of U21 football during the new campaign.
Maitland-Niles, an intelligent, forward-thinking player, made his debut for Arsenal U19s whilst he was still a schoolboy and went on to feature regularly for the U21s last season during the first year of his scholarship. Despite also being capable of playing in central-midfield, his qualities of pace and trickery, as well as directness, are far better suited to a wide position.
Iwobi, meanwhile, made the bench for the Arsenal first-team last season for their Capital One Cup victory over West Bromwich Albion. A hard-working player who helps out defensively as well as providing his side with attacking intent, he signed his first professional contract at the end of last season.
The duo endured mixed fortunes during last night’s U21 Premier League draw with Derby County. Maitland-Niles put Arsenal ahead after latching onto a superb pass from Kristoffer Olsson, with the Hale End product taking a touch to steady himself before finishing emphatically.
Iwobi, on as a substitute, conceded the penalty that enabled Derby to equalise, although the award of the spot-kick was a rather harsh one, with the Arsenal player appearing, at first glance at least, to have won the ball fairly.
With Dan Crowley currently being deployed on the left wing for the U21s, Iwobi will have to be patient for his opportunity at that level, but Maitland-Niles is currently thriving and may even have an outside chance of being called up for the Captial One Cup this season.