Arteta praises Maitland-Niles for improved attitude

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Yes, the game was lost. Yes, we had injuries in that part of the pitch. Yes, we were allowed to make five substitutions. But the sight of Ainsley Maitland-Niles coming off the bench on Wednesday to get minutes in the centre of midfield – the first time that has happened in *checks notes* erm, not sure – appears to have marked a change in his relationship with Mikel Arteta.

In our five Premier League fixtures prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, the England under-21 international was included in the Spaniard’s squad just once. Having played the full 90 minutes in the previous eight games, albeit at right-back, it’s fair to speculate that off-field issues played a part in his being dropped.

The boss hinted as much after the FA Cup win over Portsmouth, saying: “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 appears the 22-year-old has heeded the message and following some heart-to-hearts over Zoom, returned to training with new zest.

Asked if Maitland-Niles’ appearance in midfield against City was a sign that his attitude had improved, the boss, speaking in his pre-Brighton press conference, confirmed it was “much better”.

He added: “We discussed that during the lockdown. He has changed a lot of things, a lot of positive things.

“He’s a really honest kid as well. We know him from the Academy and the way he has developed here. He has all the attributes and qualities to become a really important player. It’s up to him.”

Having played the majority of his first team football at the Emirates as an emergency right-back, it’s still unclear what Ainsley can bring to central midfield and if he’s considered a serious, long-term option in the position. If that’s where he wants to play, he may feel he has to go elsewhere.

The good news is that we’re under no pressure to rush a decision. While reports surfaced this week that he’s changed agent – a telltale sign that someone has itchy feet – he’s still under contract until 2023.

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Aaron

Sorry but he’s good enough to be a back up right back to Bellerin, considering his age but he’s certainly not good enough to be in the central midfield, with his tendency to switch off at times. If he can put his foot down and accept his role as an utility player (most times at right back, sometimes to wind down the clock as central mid), he can make a career out at Arsenal. This is no mean feat considering a much more ferocious FLAMSTER performed this particular role for a significant time. Come on AMN, you are one of… Read more »

Ya Gooner

Still willing to give him more time tbh. Who would have thought henderson would be a key part of a champions league squad. Not saying he will do that for us just saying sometimes it takes the right manager

Artetas Assistant

A 22 year old should give up on becoming the best player in the world and accept utility because he’s switched off a couple times?
How do you make a success out of yourself and your life when you’re so hard on yourself and beat yourself down so quickly 🤔🤔?

Aaron

Couple of times and I wouldn’t have passed this judgement. This is a trait with AMN that is there for all to see over the last couple of seasons. No one would have complained if Arteta didn’t bench him regarding his attitude and this was purely to do with his favored central midfield position. He doesn’t fill me with confidence playing there. (For a quiet little perspective, Willock , who is younger, hasn’t set the world on fire playing in midfield either but he puts his shift every time and doesn’t switch off for a second. Hence, there is a… Read more »

Aaron

And if he can take a leaf out of Flamini and focus on becoming the best he can be, I would be more than happy for him to be the world star at Arsenal.
It’s just that I don’t see it in him so far. ( I will happily eat my humble pie when the time comes…until then)

Kenny T

You should never decide to he a bit player, no one with an ounce of pride would do that & if that person was in my squad, I would let them go, period. N Miles has a chance to be a good central midfield player and that should be his aim & you should not be able to make that decision for him.

PGunner

I was a bit miffed as to why Blogs didn’t mention AMN when writing about our midfield issues in today’s blog. I think he is our most natural homegrown CM in the squad- good technique, passing range solid, strength and stamina. Just needs to focus on the concentration/positioning elements of the game and I’m sure he could do a decent job for us. Maybe overly optimistic but I like the lad and really want him to succeed with the Arsenal.

loose_cannon

Agreed, I’d like to see AMN given a chance there. I do like Willock but I think AMN may be more assured on the ball and in his passing.

Artetas Assistant

Agree. AMN is more ice-cool and matured than Willock and seems to have more responsibility at home, perhaps that’s where his mind drifts off to. Mikel will break him and reassemble him right. Currently He’s more of a young man, Willock more of a starlet.

Riku

Agree, didn’t he play DM pivot role when England won the youth world cup three years ago and he was a key man. Calm under pressure and good passer.
Lung busting runs at RB will have helped his stamina. Plus he has a couple tricks of good dribbling in his locker. The man scored at Anfield FFS. Worth giving him a chance with xhaka and torreira out and Guan. And Dan c. Better at pressing . While someone A.m.n. sits in deeper. These in a three like to see

Pat Rice and Beans

Agreed! After the frustrating punts with Suarez and Ceballos, why not give AMN a chance.

Jeremy DG

Everyone ready to see this lot go full bingo two games in a row and get pumped by a team who hasn’t played in over 3 months? I expect to see them amble about feeling sorry for themselves once again while Brighton attack at will. Maybe they can at least muster a shot on goal today if it isn’t too much effort for these precious multi millionaires.

Artetas Assistant

The last thing Mikel will tolerate is anybody feeling sorry for themselves. That’s positive enough for me all things considered

loose_cannon

I actually think AMN could be part of the solution at CM. Whoa wait come back! I mean it, hey, stop laughing at the back! I think he has useful qualities, he’s played well there before, he’s very comfortable on the ball and very athletic. Got a couple of assists in the league so he can spot a pass, something Willock is currently struggling to do. Could see him as a mezzala, slotting in on the right hand side of a midfield 3.

Nilaroulettes

Just heard that Chelski are willing to sell Kanté. If this is true, that’s the All In gamble we should try. He is exactly what this team need.

Naked Cygan

Let’s hope all this talking and praising the players turns into results on the pitch. 3 points is a must today. They have to prove they are the better team and want it more. If we dont win today, then we need Roy Kean to come and have a word with the players.

T K

We losing game after game and our coach leaves Gabriel on the bench. Our goal scoring machine

Der Kaiser

Give ANM a chance! How many times has he been given 90 mins as a central midfield player? Very strong, quick, good in the air and quite technically gifted. Only 22 yrs old. Could be a beast of a player. I would love him to be given a genuine chance. It is NOT the youngsters letting us done it is the older experienced ones!

Warthog

This is spot on! Guen is Championship material, Ceballos isn’t worth keeping, WIllock is young and you can see the talent, but the game is bigger than him right now. AMN and Tierney as our pivot with Sako and Bellerin as fullbacks is our best possible combo for those positions at this time.