Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Maitland-Niles: I’m not a defender, but I’m trying my best

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has again reiterated his desire to play in midfield, and says that while he’s trying his best at right back, he doesn’t have years of experience in that position – an issue which can see him exposed from time to time.

The 22 year old has been filling in for Hector Bellerin since the Spaniard picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury in January, and his performances have fluctuated in a team which is far from defensively solid anyway.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he urged fans to understand that he’s been asked to do an unfamiliar job.

“I’m not a defender so I do get a lot of stick about my defending being poor, but it’s something I’m learning and have been learning for a couple of years now,” he said.

“It’s not going to come overnight. If I was a defender as a kid, and my defending was poor, I would understand where the criticism is coming from, but I’m trying my best for the team and for the manager.

“It’s not where I would choose to put myself in the team, as I’m an attacking player by trade. That’s all I can try to bring to the team.

“I’m still learning the defensive side, so when players are running at me, and they’re throwing skills at me, I’m still learning how to deal with that.”

As for what happens when Hector returns to the side, he insisted he’ll fight for a place and try to nail down a slot in his more natural position.

“”I’m a midfielder by trade, either central or on the wing,” he said.

“It’s always nice to have one main position where you play, and everyone else gets to play in their main position, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before I can do that too.”

It’s not the first time he’s spoken about his desire to play in midfield. Last season made it clear he wants to play further forward.

“I’d like to be a winger,” he said.

“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.”

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Gavin Binding

We are killing this kid’s confidence.


Well people often call him a defensive midfielder but he thinks he’s an attacker. Not sure he can get into this team as an attacking threat sadly.

Heavenly Chapecoense

If he doesn’t concentrate on his position as a RB with Arsenal, he will end up in championship as a RB still not as a winger.


Chapecoense’ form is like your comments bro. Hopefully you both improve. 🙂


well which player has more assists than him? Didnt he win the Newcastle game for us with his steal and pass. Didnt he give us a two goal cushion against watford with a beautifully taken assist.



Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

I totally disagree. Arsenal has given hom the opportunity to play and that is as a RB. Do you think he is good enough as a winger to play for Arsenal ? The club even sold Iwobi who to me was a better winger than what AMN would have offered in the position. He should grab the opportunity he has as a RB by two hands and try to make a statement.


How exactly?
He’s not good enough to play in the wings, not even if he said so. And Not when we have Pepe and Auba there when laca is fit.
And the midfield is crowded by a number of players who are better technically, physically, tactically… so again, he’d rather play peripheral role in midfield or wings where he may or may never have a real chance, than to take the opportunity given to him as RB, dig in , improve and make the role his?


look, i drive a telehandler on site, now if they told me to be a labourer I’d help them out for a day or two but its not my position so I’d either quit or say fuck off if they tried to keep me there. He’s not a right back we know this, but more importantly he knows this so he won’t want to do it its not his position he’s doing a job defo not happy about it so a little leeway and understanding is fair , not these bs comments. you guys should try putting yourselves in the… Read more »


Your negativity is actually quite boring! Also you’re not even accurate in your comments.

David C

I never guys like James Milner complaining about their position. AMN needs to buck up and take his chances no matter where he’s playing. Playing other positions will make his overall game better in the long run and his ability to play multiple positions will keep in the starting 11 too.


I didn’t read any of that as a complaint. I read that as him trying to remind the critics of his defending that he doesn’t have 15 years of training in the position, but instead he’s only been learning on the job for the past 1.5 years. Keeping that in mind, he’s done a solid job there.


I don’t see why he couldn’t do a job on the wing, would be a good counter balance to a more attacking winger on the other side. Has a trick, decent pace, good in 1v1s. Has 2 assists already and prob will get more before Bellerin returns. I don’t know why he’s being singled out.


Considering what he’s been asked to do, I’m immensely proud to have AMN in our team. The defending isn’t always great, but rarely are RB’s as exposed as he is (looking at you 442 diamond), and going forward he’s been brilliant so often. Definitely has the talent to achieve the goal he’s stated, though may have a task on his hands taking a spot from Pepe.


Taking a spot from Pepe? I am really amazed at most of the opinions here. I mean AMN had 2 goals in his last two years, while Pepe had 35 and there weren’t a dozen of people in top leagues who made more dribbles per game than him. I agree that AMN has very good speed and athleticism, and he is quite good with the ball, but (at least in my opinion) he is very far from being enough if he would like to play in a position where the bests are Sterling, Sane, Rashford, Coman, Mbappe (not to mention… Read more »

A Different George

It is remarkable that knowing that Maitland-Niles is not an experienced fullback, Emery still picks a formation, a narrow diamond in midfield, that is most likely to leave him isolated on the touchline against an opposing winger and overlapping fullback. And, if you insist on doing that, at least use a very quick player at the base of the diamond, so he can move over to help, not Xhaka.


It’s a shame that bellerin isn’t ready yet because we could use AMN on the wing while lacazette is injured. A front three of aubamayang pepe and AMN would be alright. Pure pace


Yes and it would keep the right side solid. AMN tracking back and Bellerin just behind him for when/if he loses his 1v1 battle is a good way to plug the leak. Tierney, Holding and Saliba (maybe Chambers?) in the back line with Torreira/Guendouzi in front of them just makes us even more solid. AMN could easily start the Top 6 away games in that position with Pepe being subbed on for energy or vice versa… start with Pepe to get the goals and protect the lead by subbing on AMN to relieve pressure on Bellerin. Then we would just… Read more »

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Kolo Toure and Lauren were midfielders at youth level. No premier league for them if they hadn’t accepted to play in defence.

A Different George

Sure, and Gareth Bale was a crappy fullback at Southampton. Didn’t think like a defender.


Talented player, but you do worry he’ll do an Ox and bounce if things aren’t rectified soon. Baffling we didn’t look for a proper second choice right back if we weren’t going to play Chambers or Mustafi there. Even more baffling that we’d play a diamond and give AMN and Kolasinic (also not a proper fullback) zero protection on the flanks!


This common sense is for common men like us. Big brain Emery just has got to overthink.


Yeah Raul and Edu were begging for a backup RB and Emery just wouldn’t have it. I guess common sense is not common even among common people like us.




if raul wanted a rb he would have got one mate. the evidence is there no?


He’s still going to have to play loads more at right back… Hector will be eased back and even then when 100% wont play all the time.
Ridiculous that AFC don’t have two right backs in the squad.


Anyone who thinks fixing our problems, is as simple as replacing Emery? Are in dreamland…. Our problems run deep,but in spite of the complete OTT reactions to what’s going on, I still think we’ll compete for 3rd/4th over 38 games. Which is pretty much where we are as a club. Pepe+Ceballos were always going to take a few months to settle, and we’re still very much in a club in transition, just 19 months ago, exactly the same allegations were being thrown at Klopp. I like Niles, for him to come out and talk like this, must mean the negativity… Read more »


We are ruining a young players chances at Arsenal because the majority of our fanbase live in la la land on social media, Stick Guendozi right or Aubameyang or whoever else the fans are actually supporting at the minute, at right full, and see how they do, he has been horribly managed by two managers now, clearly not a right full, square peg meet round hole.


He wouldn’t have played in midfield anyway and he said many times that he’s just happy about playing regularly, regardless the position. He’ll learn a lot from this spell either for his future as a winger, when he understands the situation of the full back behind him better, or maybe even so much, that he’s a complete full back one day and will be able to compete with Hector for that spot. Don’t see a problem in playing a young player week in week out. He’s clearly a better player now than he was 1 year ago.


“Don’t see a problem in playing a young player week in week out”

Either do I, As long as the fan base realise he’s playing out of position, and stop giving him a hard time online about it.


I get where you’re coming from but not sure I totally agree. Yes it’s good he gets to play, but if he’s in the wrong position then that will effect his confidence and his performances. It also gives him little incentive to really improve and excel there. If anything, the incentives are perverse; the better he does at RB, the less chance he gets to play where he wants. We’ve seen this previously with Ox and especially with Walcott, who I believe could have been an even better winger if he truly commited to that position earlier on in his… Read more »


I think being trusted by the manager and playing every week rather boosts your confindence than destroying it. His confidence would probably have been destroyed if he had been waiting for a chance in midfield for a year now and only get it in League Cup games or maybe the europa league group stage. If he has problems with his confidence it’s not because he’s playing every week but because of false expectations from the fans and bad reactions to mistakes that he makes. So it’s up to us as a fan base to not let bad games affect his… Read more »


But that’s the thing, Ox is now playing in midfield….at Liverpool! He felt that he had to leave Arsenal in order to play there regularly, and that’s my fear for AMN. And Ox actually he had more opportunities to do that here than AMN has had. Playing week in week out might help with confidence but not if you’re being roasted week in week out like what happened against Watford. Also don’t see how his confidence would be destroyed by playing in his correct position in the lesser competitions like is happening for Saka and ESR. Finally disagree that he… Read more »


contributes more in attack and defense than the teachers pet Doozi


Welcome to the bench

Mark WahlBergkamp

Waiting patiently for Santori’s speech about AMN’s natural position being a RB.


Santori RINSING continues! Love it


The man has a point He isn’t a natural full back, sometimes even the system we play in exposes him. I am sure If Ainsley was playing under Pep he would have been a very good make shift full back you know kinda like Zinchenko. But in our system nobody knows what they are suppose to be doing, may be except for strikers. Every now and then a midfield play a centre defender or a full back, but the way the team plays will determine whether he succeed or not. And at the moment it doesn’t seem to be working… Read more »


He’s got so much ability about him it’s such a pity to see him struggling out there with little protection. Now he’s seeing the other youngsters come into the midfield gaining experience in the area he feels best suited. How will we ever know how good a player he is/ could be with out a run of games in the midfield. And what does it say about the club that there’s no competition at all for the right back spot. That we’d rather bumble along with a stop gap for a year or so and wait for a seriously injured… Read more »

Forest gooner

Rb not a defender, Lb doesn’t know how to defend. Cb poor at defending.
Wish the month of September had just 20 days


If Bellerin can get back to peak fitness, Maitland-Niles is exactly where he should be in order to be in the Arsenal squad. Backup RB.

Maul Person



This versatility even though good will kill his career in long run, I hope things get better for him and we bring in another RB in January. It is a pity that Emery or Edu took AMN for granted at RB. He can be a good RWB but at RB absolutely not. It is a specialized position!!


Slightly off topic but as this is from an article on Sky maybe not so, but has anyone else seen the article where they compare Arsene’s last 43 games to Emrey’s first 43? Makes for interesting reading, worse in pretty much every department.


The stats show we’re defending like a team that gets relegated end of the season. We’re lucky we’re not in the bottom half of the table.

Press Box Gooner

Do you have the link, please?

Chairman Galant

Yes, Niles is saying the truth. he is not a defender and he is actually trying his best .Use that guy as central mid fielder or a winger and we shall see the best of him.


He’s a full-back. Stick with it. He has potential there.


You’re definitely not the issue young mate. Keep trying but let me tell you something straight, you won’t be getting on the pitch once Hector is back.


we should appreciate the commitment and flexibility shown by this youngster. He also has 2 assists in the league this year. more than doozi or torreira or xhaka or willock or ozil, so his statement is not without substance.

Make Arsenal Great Again

I’ve never understood the stick he gets for his defending. He is not a natural defender and he is having to learn. He has only played this role for 3 years. It’s not like he was converted at the youth level. He is learning the role at a high pressure, highly visible setting and fans need to get off his back. I see why Wenger and Emery have played him at right back. He has the ingredient to be really good there, he just needs time and obviously needs to be convinced that he has what it takes to succeed… Read more »


I always saw him as a DMF tbh


The same individuals on here praising him were the same ones crushing this kids confidence and criticizing him last week. Yes he’s been asked to play out of position but when do you get a chance to be starting for Arsenal? Not very often, so take your chance and make whatever position you’re told to play your own. AMS should take notes from James Milner who has played in multiple positions throughout his career and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him complain about it. Tough love is sometimes needed as it build character but I do admit us fans… Read more »


hopefully this period at RB will help to mould him into a well rounded player further up the pitch in the future. His idea of being a winger by 25 years old is quite a good and level headed target for him.


How long has he been playing in that position?


Hey, Bale started as a LB! And that turned out alright. And the best thing is AMN isn’t Bale. Plus, we haven’t lost whatever crazy amount of games he did when stating out at the S**t.


I dont know why we dont ever use chambers as right back? We bought him from Southampton when he was their run on starting right back?


If he starts finding himself on the bench he’ll miss being a RB


join the Tactical Chameleons of Arsenal

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