Thursday, August 18, 2022

Arteta tells Maitland-Niles to ‘put his head down and work’

Mikel Arteta says Ainsley-Maitland needs to work harder if he’s to be considered for a place in Arsenal’s starting lineup.

The 22-year-old enjoyed regular game time under Unai Emery, often being deployed as a makeshift right-back, but has been conspicuous by his absence in recent weeks under the new regime.

The midfielder did make his first appearance since January when he came on as a stoppage time substitute in the 2-0 FA Cup win against Portsmouth but it sounds like he has more work to do if he’s to earn the trust of the boss.

In his post-game press conference, he said: “Ainsley needs to put his head down and work hard and show me every day in training that he wants it more than anyone else, he wants to play for this club and fight for his place.”

It’s been suggested in some circles that Maitland-Niles’ supposed reticence to play at right-back has gone against him, but Arteta was quick to joke that Sokratis, preferred as back-up to Hector Bellerin at Fratton Park, doesn’t much like the position either.

“He [Sokratis] moans a little bit because it is not his position! But for certain games, he is very helpful and he always has the right attitude and he has the qualities to play there in essential moments when we need him.”

Arteta also explained why he was so regularly seen in conversation with the Greek throughout Monday’s win.

On giving instructions, he said: “Yes, sometimes you need to interpret that when we have the ball it is a little bit different for him to use the spaces like he should do in relation to what the opponents are doing, but in general I think he is doing really well.”

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I may be wrong and unfortunately haven’t watched the game yet due to work. (Will highlights today) but surely AMN is better suited as a RB than Sokratis?


I have a sneaky feeling if the “non negotiables” applied to Xhaka or Mustafi majority of the fans would be hailing the boss. Fan’s favourite on the end of it and questions come in.

Seen some fans worried about Saka playing so well at left back when he’s filled in not because it’s bad for the team but worried about how Tierney gets a game if Saka excelled there.

Steve Morpurgo

He may be more ‘suited’ but if his attitude stinks, he won’t play and that’s the right way in my book. If the boss is not happy with the way he trains, my guess would be, that unless he alters his attitude, he will be training somewhere else..


Fair point

Maul Person

But that was the point of the article. Did SM need to summarise it for it to be understood?

Dave M

I 100% agree on the attitude thing, but that also has to extend to the players ability to handle pressure. And sadly a lot of the “experienced” contingent continue to show they wilt as soon as the pressure piles on. It’s all well and good to train hard and act like a good guy, but that simply isn’t enough. Real leaders pick the team up when the pressure builds and what real leaders do we have? Maybe Luiz and Auba that is it, but even Auba is more a action that words guy. Ozil – complete opposite of that, Sokratis… Read more »


Did you even bother reading the article Ayleym?


He’s not really developed the way we would like.

I get he thinks he’s playing out of position but he only needs to look at the opposite flank to see what a difference attitude can make.

High gooner

Come on stop it, “needs to look at the opposite flank to see what a difference attitude can make”
Have you forgotten that AMN has played RB for like 4 years already?

I agree with AMN if he is tired playing at RB, as I said, he has done for it so long without it being his position so what was wrong with his attitude then????? I just think with the new manager in he felt that his time had come to FINALLY play in HIS NATURAL position.. we are humans and i feel AMNs frustration


We’ve played Guendouzi, Torreira, Xhaka, Willock, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla, Ox in midfield. Since AMN hasnt dislodged any of them his only option is to perform on the flanks…


He hasn’t looked the best RB in world football nor has he looked the worst. the fact that we believe he could deputies at left back and wonder why he’s not getting enough playing time at Right back points to the fact that he’s done well or reasonably well depending on our opinions. He hasn’t come out to voice his frustrations in public at not playing so I believe most of the “attitude problems ” stem from guesswork on the matter. For all we know he could have the best attitude but the boss preferring other players. All talk about… Read more »


Are u not worried this might be a case of ffavoritism? AMN not being among Arteta’s favorite players . There is no other way to look at it. I am afraid if this continues we lose AMN to other top clubs


I guarantee we won’t lose him to a top club whatever we do.

Dave M

And if that is his attitude (and a typical attitude of this squad) then it’s little wonder we are in the struggles we are in. Priority should be the team success and playing where ever you are asked. Anything else and it just becomes the individual focus and we remain a weak team. Cudos to Arteta for calling it out. It is what this team has needed for years! The players have been WAY too comfortable for way too long. Time to show they want it!

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Priority for any player must, and always will, centre on the development of his own career. If a player is being played regularly in a position that is not his own (4 years is pretty regular), and he does well but not as well as he thinks that he would do in his natural position, then he will probably find himself thinking that his career is not fully on track. He may well have had hopes that he would be picked in midfield by Arteta, and when it didn’t happen he may have become temporarily disillusioned and allowed his work… Read more »


I get both sides on this. I’m sure most of us have had roles (or will have roles at some point in their career) that they didn’t feel made the most of their abilities or otherwise matched their aspirations. AMN has done a job for us at fullback for a while and I think he’s well within his right to ask to play in his natural position. But whether he deserves to play in that position on merit is another question altogether. As much as I like him as a player I can’t find a case for him dislodging any… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Arteta’s comments would be the same if he was considering playing AMN in midfield. Before he can play anywhere in the team he needs to get his head right and work harder. I don’t necessarily see this as Arteta saying “Shape up or ship out”. It is likely encouragement rather than dire threat.

Dave cee

He should be happy to play anywhere on the pitch tbh. He has proved nothing yet. He is at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he can’t expect anything. RB is a lot better than nothing

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Its only fan speculation that he is not trying because Arteta won’t play him in midfield. Nothing said by Arteta should lead to fans verbally attacking him or accusing him of who knows what crimes against the badge.


No one can question his attitude when he played there regularly over the last two seasons. He has been out of position for a long time and its good that he is taking a stand now. I would prefer him as a CM because he has the lungs to go up and down the pitch with good speed


AMN could be a top full back, one of the most difficult positions to fill in elite football these days.

He needs to get a grip and apply himself, frankly.

Dave M

Here, here. This mentality sums up our squad over the last 15 years perfectly. It’s been about what the players want and not what the team needs for far too long!


100% agree. He has all the attributes to be very good right back. But he should want to be one also. This was always the position to make the breakthrough this season. Hector was out half the season, we didin’t have the backup. Now Hecotr is back, but it will take rest of the season for him to get back to best, Chambers is out. And it first games under Arteta it seemed that he was perfect Arteta fullback in our system. It is so annoying that he is throwing his career away when he has all the attributes beside… Read more »

Maul Person

Good full back, yes. Top full back? Like Alexander Arnold? Highly unlikely…


Is anybody really surprised by this development.The lad is seriously talented but his whole demeanor on the pitch is shocking.Hope this kick up the backside livens him up.


He can act so casual sometimes on the pitch…


Not sometimes, more like most times.

The Arsenal

Makes his moments of magic look especially good but his mistakes look even more braindead

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Haters gonna hate.


With respect I don’t hate any Arsenal player.Ainsley is a talented foootballer just wish he would realize what a privileged position he’s in playing for a club we all love.

Gudang Bedil

He should stop catching birds.


We’ve seen this show before surely and I do sympathise with AMN to an extent. But he’s behind Auba, Pepe, Martinelli, Nelson, Saka and even Willock on the wings, and behind all the regulars at CM. A talented player for sure but it’s a different situation from Ox for example; if AMN isn’t playing as a fullback it’s hard to see how gets in the team atm.


The only difference with Ox is that Arsene had that right wing position reserved for game time for his home grown players or academy players who weren’t getting games in their preferred positions. Theo always talked about being a central striker while getting valuable minutes out on the right. Ox the same with his midfield desires. Ramsey when Arsene hadn’t trusted him enough to return to central midfield. Welbeck played there,Wilshere played some games there too. Not going to mention Campbell because it was his natural position. None of them were setting the world alight in that position and you… Read more »


This would be valid if not for two points. Firstly Ox didn’t even want to be a winger, his first choice of position has always been CM. That’s where he’s had his best games for us (think AC Milan and Bayern) and that’s now where he plays best at Liverpool. Secondly Ox was much closer to the first team than AMN and we had less strength in depth in his favoured position. By the time he left Rosicky had already gone, Cazorla and Wilshire were permacrocked, and Ramsey and Xhaka were struggling to form an effective partnership. Ox could (and… Read more »


Well said! Plus, I think we are mixing 2 things here… The first point is that you’ve just mentioned: He doesn’t seems to be good enough on the wings or in midfield. It’s not an “attitude problem” in my opinion – if contrary to the first point – he still would like to play in more advanced roles. The players are not only playing for the team or for the club. They are doing this sport because they enjoy it. If AMN tried everything to settle in in the defence but it still doesn’t fit his mentality/dreams etc. then: That’s… Read more »


I think this is exactly it, we’re just in a situation where it’s unlikely to work out for him here as he won’t be able to play the way he wants to. That’s ok, doesn’t make him a shirker or mean he has a bad attitude.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

This is a well thought out and sensible view of the AMN conundrum. Much better than… Arteta: “AMN needs to work harder to get game time” “Fans”: “AMN is a *&*(%^*^ disgrace, he needs to ^&*$ off” Arteta hasn’t ruled out AMN getting games in midfield, he only said that at the moment he’s not working hard enough to get a game so needs to up his workrate a bit. No doubt this applies to a fair number of the players in the squad as the season progresses. We have a large squad. Competition for a start should be high.… Read more »

Steve Morpurgo

I love Artetas way and his determination


AMN has everything to succeed at Arsenal.. blessed with athleticism and his pace can be blistering. He did more good than bad even under Emery


He has been sloppy when he featured in games under Emery. But Unai is just a bad coach, who couldn’t get a grip of his squad or players. Like Xhaka who would have that one terrible pass the entire game or Mustafi with one match costing error, AMN would have a similar drop of concentration during every match. Glad Arteta has recognised it, you only get into squad if you work harder and have the necessary qualities.


he Could also take notes from Lauren who was equally opposed to playing at right back as he played central midfield for his entire career including For Cameroon. He ended up being invincible and someone Wenger said you could “go to war with”. I want that.


Well that’s that then. We asked the question, boss answered. I’m satisfied. If we can get another left back fit for the weekend then everything will be rosy ?


Niles has everything to succeed, he’s one of the best athletes at the club.

He should embrace any opportunities at right back though, otherwise his Arsenal career will be a short one.

There’s a spot there to compete with Bellerin, but Arteta moving for Soares suggests he doesn’t trust him.

It’ll be a shame if it doesn’t work out for him, but we should get £25-£30mill if it doesn’t.

Hopefully we’re looking at Max Aarons, who looks a cracking player.


Who’s going to pay that much for a player that doesn’t have a position? He’s not even at Iwobi level yet lol


What a shame he has fallen so far in Arteta’s short time here. I fully support the idea of making the players accountable at all times though.


How long until we get to see his mom crash our training session…. Lol


But as a midfielder not as a defender Niles he’s very late y

Thomas b

If Torreira needs to sit out some games because of injuries, I hope AMN will be given a chance to play as a Def mid.


Great! I expect him to join a rival on the cheap and be a world beater. ?


I have a feeling if he can just apply himself more, stop whining and play out the year, there might be spots opened up for him to play in his natural position (or closer to) for the next season if we can’t get ourselves up the table more. Not the way I want it to play out, but if it happens…


…however….. if we get ourselves back into a Europa League postion and he’s still pulling this crap, maybe it would be time to move him on, and get a player in that does want to do the job.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Arteta is giving him encouragement to work harder, not setting him up for fans who want to have the latest “face” to focus their anger on.


I think this speculation about him not wanting to play RB is bollocks. Bellerin came into the squad as soon as fit enough so Arteta might’ve only been playing AMN because lack of options and actually wasn’t too thrilled with AMN’s training before. Especially since he didn’t want to risk an CB at RB since we had injury problems throughout the back line at the time. Just like Saka plays functionally as a LW who has to track back more, AMN under Arteta was playing as a CM who had to track back. In Arteta’s fluent system he’s as much… Read more »


He needs to work.

Frankly he is way too careless for midfield at the moment.

And he has been playing Rback/Lback for 3+ seasons now. It is IMO his best chance particularly with no real viable back up to Bellerin and Cedric still undecided/injured.

Out wide on the wings, he will be behind Pepe and Nelson and potentially Martinelli maybe even a Balogun.

IMO he needs to play Rback but he needs to show the gaffer with however limited opportunities now he can capitalise on his natural athleticism and do something at fullback.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Are our midfielders all so perfect that AMN can never get a game there? All have their flaws. The noticeable thing about Pepe, for instance, is that he has absolutely no idea how to go around the outside of a defender (just using him as an example, not attacking his style or person). None of our midfielders are perfect. AMN could well be better than they are if played in midfield for a while, but if we, and Arteta, are ever to find that out AMN needs to be working harder than he is at the moment. Arteta is simply… Read more »

Dave cee

I agree on this. Like AMN, think he has talent and athleticism. But he does come across as a little lax on the pitch at times. Hope Arteta can light fire under his ass and he succeeds at Arsenal

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

All of our players come across like that occasionally, except Martinelli, and maybe Auba. Different ones need encouragement to work harder, on the pitch or off it, at different times.


With Sokratis scoring a goal, this could be seen as a missed opportunity for Niles. With what looks like a long stint in the job for Mikel


I think this is all smoke screen for the fact AMN has a heavy touch and isn’t an accurate passer. He just doesn’t trap the ball softly enough and it’s not something you can teach.

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