Saturday, May 25, 2024

Maitland-Niles wants to be answer to Arsenal’s winger issues

Despite the fact that he’s played most of his first team football as a full back or a wing-back, and that Arsene Wenger declared him to be a great candidate to fill a defensive midfield role, Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he sees his future further up the field.

The 21 started the 3-0 win over Blackpool in the front three, creating two fantastic chances for Eddie Nketiah, and he played there earlier in the season in the Carabao Cup. He also had a loan spell at Ipswich a few seasons ago where he played as wide midfielder/forward, so it’s a role he’s well accustomed to.

It’s also where he wants to make his mark at Arsenal, and although few have really considered him as a forward player since his breakthrough, the absence of Danny Welbeck and Henrikh Mkhitaryan might provide him with chances between now and the end of the season.

Speaking ahead of the Gunners trip to West Ham tomorrow, he told Sky Sports, “I’d like to be a winger. I feel comfortable there and I’ve been playing there this season.

“I was a striker growing up. Thierry Henry was the perfect role model at the time.

“Then everybody started growing but I was still a bit short. As I was still quick, direct and could run at players they thought they would put me on the wing.

“So up until the age of 16 I was a winger.”

And when asked about his future, he continued, “I like to think of myself as a winger at 25 years old, starting every week for Arsenal, scoring and assisting goals.

“I don’t feel like I’m there. I’m still young and I have a lot of learning to do.”

Maitland-Niles scored his first Arsenal goal in the 5-1 defeat to Liverpool, so his contribution in that game was rather overshadowed, but Unai Emery seems to see something in his game that Wenger didn’t, so it’ll be interesting to see where exactly he ends up.

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He is talented enough to play anywhere. I hope he picks a position and sticks to it real soon. It would aide his development.


Does his mother approve? :p




Totally agree massive talent ..can be molded to whatever we need I think but it’s also very clear he doesn’t yet know how to fully play in that position. Emery should be clear with what he wants from him .. take on players -cross .. run behind defenders for through-balls.

High gooner

I’ll say it again, peoples perspective are fucked up.. Remember when Wenger were playing him as a winger/full back and people were absolutely hating on wenger for doing that?? I wont crititisize those people cause they dont know any better, but isnt it funny how things and people change all of a sudden??


Wenger played him at left back as well. I think everyone complains about players not nailing down one specific position. Being versatile can both be a blessing and a curse.




If we are not signing anyone in the window then i’d be more than happy for Ainsley to spend the second half of the season being blooded into the winger role. He has the pace and technique and is quite an exciting talent to watch. Better invest this time in him then watch another non performance from Mhiki IMO.


i always saw him as a more offensive centre midfielder like. when he has possession he quick thinking, always has the composure to choose the right option, and keep possession well. off the ball he is quick of the ground, strong tackler and has a good work rate. But in emerys team he can also be a good winger. because the winger in emerys team is far from a traditional winger.He is more like an attacking midfielder, staying infield than out wide. And since Iwobi on the other side is more offensive attacking midfielder creating chances, maitland niles job is… Read more »


Is it me or has he got quicker this year? He looks absolutely lightning fast whenever he’s played.

Leno me, I’ll be your friend

Him and Bellerin on the right-hand side together… For away games the opposition will have to fit speed cameras on the flanks!


AMN + Bellerin on the right, they could both play at RB and RW during the same match. This give me chills

Mesut O'Neill

Bellerin isn’t even fast. I know he had ‘that’ record but I’ve seen many games where people like Glen Murray can keep level with him

Michael Bolton Wanderers


Faisal Narrage

He’s always been fast, it’s one of his main attributes. Maybe he was inhibited playing as a fullback, but as a winger he offers the opportunity to be more direct.

He also seems an Emery type; Winger-type with speed, directness and dribbling, but has player enough as a CM to come in and play ball.

Rich S

In the Blackpool game there were a couple of occasions I noticed him chasing down defenders on the ball – was stunned at how he ‘ate up the ground’ – obviously equates directly to speed but also size / power somehow too. Was exciting to see

Leno me, I’ll be your friend

Has it been long enough to pass “Va-va-voom” on to two young Guns? I’m certain both Thiery and Bobby would give their blessing ?

Thomas b

Niles is such a talented footballer, and am sure he can become a good winger, but for me he has the potential to be one of the best as a defensive midfielders. Wherever he ends up, I hope we can se him fulfill his great potential.


Guys like him are the reason I don’t have a problem with not buying in the winter. Would rather have Emery give as many opportunities to guys he’s not sure yet if they fit his style and system. Check the squad as much as possible, make your mind up on all of them and then in the summer sell what doesn’t fit and get in players that fit. What About Koscielny? In the documentary the physios said that he hasn’t lost any of his pace and they don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t get back to his best if… Read more »


With you on the Emery-developing-the youngsters theme– with regard to few/no purchases this TW. And there’s an article I read here: That, if true (and it does read with validity) we’ll see much more action next Summer– and then again the following January. Won’t weigh-in all of the questions you pose above– but? Mustafi? Must go. I’ve done some back-of-napkin math over the past 2 years– with Transfermarkt data. Each time he was sold on (to Valencia, to Arsenal) his value has decreased over 30% within 18 months of arrival (wager this pattern is not lost on the new… Read more »


Thanks for the link to the article on the financials! A very interesting read, and fills me with hope that we may actually be able to afford the rebuild we need this summer.

It strikes me the FFP rules are too inflexible though, if we’re hugely limited in January but know we’ll be allowed loads of spending in June.

Faisal Narrage

Great post. It’s why I always considered this season a write-off, I think the less pressure we put on Emery, the more risks he can take and then we can truly know if there areinternal solutions in our squad, not for him to get inhibited and play the oldies like Litch in fear of the fans losing his trust because he got a few decisions wrong. On the Kos point, I think medicals will always try and be positive, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely that a 33-year old Kos returning from a snapped Achilles can even match a 26 year old… Read more »


I have the feeling that Stan wants us to copy the Dortmund/Monaco model. In that we identify talent at a young age and blood them until their market value goes up sell for high transfer fees in order to remain competitive in the transfer market. Hence why we have appointed Sven. I think a huge part f why our current squad is so limited is because our contract handling has been terrible and we have wasted milions and millions on player sales. Liverpool have benefited for selling their best players and reinvesting In their squad overall. Had we managed player… Read more »


Does quite a bit well. Would like to see him a bit more aggressive (decisive?) with his chances to cross from the right. With a poacher like Auba? Sometimes all that is necessary is putting that cross in quickly.



he put in quite a few excellent crosses for Eddie last week. Don’t think his delivery is as bad as some suggest.

Micky Tayrian

Has the skill set to be an England international, keep going son


If he talks openly about it you can imagine he discussed it at length with the coach. With his pace, technique and cold mind I’d like to see more of him on the wing.


I Am N…..I am on this band wagon.


I’ve been advocating giving him 10-15 consistent games at right midfield since his return from injury, I think he’s got real ability, composure and athleticism, and with Mkhitaryan now out, Iwobi more suited to cutting in on the left and struggling when played on the right, giving Mailand Niles a chance to grow into the position looks our best option.

Faisal Narrage

“but Unai Emery seems to see something in his game that Wenger didn’t” I would never question Wenger’s development abilities (at least until his last few years were many young players seemed to stall), but I find this quite interesting. It’s true that Niles played much and often as a winger on loan, but Wenger declared him a central midfielder (in Arsene’s world, a whole team would be full of DMs), but there’s been this curious thing where he sees players in different roles than everyone else (including the players themselves). Niles as a CM but his loan spells had… Read more »

Olivije Žirod

At clubs which play high backline CBs are more or less ball-playing defensive midfielders, aren’t they? That is why Emery put Xhaka there because a modern defender has similiar attributes but he then weakend the midfield.

Look at City. They have no real defensive shape but they have great ball playing defenders with pace who are good at reading the game, interceptions…


Also it helps a dm understand the importance of his job protecting the defence if he has played as a defender himself.

Faisal Narrage

I get that as a development point, but this wasn’t Beilik spending time as a CB to gain defensive awareness (he was already great at that), this was a guy changed to CB BECAUSE he had great defensive attributes (and ball playing).


Stick him next to Sokratis and be done with.

(I kid. But who knows)


Did he compare himself with Viera last year?


Reminds me of coquelin and ramsey being played everywhere in the start, don’t think with him it’s the case of learning the job of defending which Arsene did with Ramsey. He is a good talent but needs to find his x factor and unpredictability when on the wings.


Don’t think this is a great solution. AMN has utility in midfield. I mentioned this as a possibility start of season when we inexplicably loaned out the talented Nelson to his benefit but our detriment. BUT we really need someone with better experience. AMN is best as surrogate competing for a Lwingback/Rwingback position with Kolasinac and Bellerin. Monreal bc of age can also cover Lback (traditional) but more so as a left sideded Cback in a back 3 particularly with Koscielny likely stepping down in the summer. BUT we need a winger and we needed one since last January. As… Read more »

Segun Goonereris

Ainsley is quite capable of playing as a winger, full time. While some (including Wenger) have seen him as a midfield type, he has deft touches and dribbling skills, including some strength on the ball, to mark him out as best suited out wide. He is also able to track back, as is required of modern day wingers. For me, once Bellerin returns, we can try him out in that position and see Auba thrive.


The speed of Hector and AMN on the right side would be able to threaten getting in behind the defense and force our opponents to play consertively on that side of the field.


Let me qualify this by saying I think the boy is clearly talented and I hope he goes on to have a successful career with us but… To temper the AMN love in a little; he got a shot on the wing in the Brighton game for a good 30 mins and was absolutely gash. So a lot to work on for him and I still think we would benefit by having some proven talent on the flanks. He’s typical of what the academies are producing these days; decent all round footballers that aren’t being coached in the specifics of… Read more »


for fucks sake, why don’t you bunch of no good cunts post my comments, your all fucking useless

DB10s Air Miles

You should publish all his comments, it makes a fascinating study in to human behaviour.

DB10s Air Miles

I’m your one, ironic, upvote. Are you a Sp*rs troll?

Naked cygan

Love this guy. He has all the potential to be an Arsenal Capitan and legend.


Interesting. I had him down as perfect for the defensive midfield role. Hope he doesn’t suffer from the John O’Shea curse of versatility

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