Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Arteta happy to retain the service of Maitland-Niles

Mikel Arteta says he’s happy to retain the services of Ainsley Maitland-Niles this season after denying the England international a move to Everton.

The Toffees are understood to have approached the Gunners with a loan move for the 24-year-old in the closing days of the transfer window but unlike in January, when they sanctioned Ainsley’s six-month stint with West Bromwich Albion, Edu and Mikel Arteta didn’t deem the offer acceptable.

In response, the player, clearly frustrated, fired off a hot-headed response on social media which led to ‘clear the air’ talks and a disciplining.

Having initially been sent to train alone, Maitland-Niles was quickly reintegrated into squad sessions and played in the behind-closed-doors friendly against Brentford last week. With Mohamed Elneny injured and Granit Xhaka suspended, it’s expected he’ll be on the bench for this weekend’s game against Norwich.

In his pre-game press conference, Arteta was asked for an update on Ainsley’s status in the squad.

“Any private conversations with players about what role they can have in the team is always discussed openly [with them] but privately,” said the Spaniard. “That’s the way that one is that is resolved.

“I am happy that he has stayed. It was our intention and he’s another player in our squad.”

On how Ainsley has responded, he added: “The response [came] after the conversation that we had privately to explain and put on the table our feelings; what we have to do and why we’ve decided something different from what we decided a few months ago when we allowed him to go to West Brom. Then he has embraced the opportunity and the chance.

“He knows that he has a unique quality in any squad, which is his versatility to play in many positions and he needs to become the best at doing that. It’s something that is very rare in football.”

So, no pressure, Ainsley…just get really good at everything and then we’ll play you when you’re needed in a position which is yet to be decided. It does feel like we’re back to square one again on this.

Related articles


Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get him at right fullback, has the potential to be the next Ashley Cole (though on the other side of the pitch).


After watching Arsenal v Saints in the FA cup in 16-17 (he played in midfield) and the game at Old Trafford in 17-18 (again in midfield) I’d like to see him in a box-to-box role alongside Partey or Lokonga. But Arteta doesn’t play with a B2B midfielder…

Tankard Gooner

Same for me. Somehow at RB I see his loss of concentration (which has happened a few times) costing us more. Playing mid alongside Partey like you said, would give him the room to carry forward and combine with the likes of ESR, Saka and Odegaard. God knows we need some proper creativity down the middle, as our plan B is usually a billion crosses aimed at no one in particular.

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

So in essence he has the same loss of concentration issue at RB as Cedric and Chambers. The difference is Ainsley used to lose concentration when in possession the ball. When out of possession, he is the best 1v1 defender at the club.

If we wanted a proper B2B midfielder to carry the ball through the middle, we should have just kept Willock and let AMN go on loan. But as @Graham said, Mikel doesn’t play with a B2B midfielder.


Ashley Cole? No, I don’t think so. As much as I hated Cole for leaving Arsenal for Chel$ki, by AMN’s age he was already considered one of the greatest left-backs in the world. He was exactly AMN’s age when he became an invincible. AMN has it in him to be very good. But let’s not go overboard with this.

Azeez Is Good

You really think he’s capable of pulling a popstar and then trying to silence the women he cheated on her with, being arrested for drunk and disorderly, firing an air rifle at a club employee, defending a racist, going +100mph in a 50 and chatting absolute garbage on the idiot box?

I’m not so sure. You see, Ainsley doesn’t seem like a massive cunt.


Thought on the other side of the League table


Arteta’s right – AMN’s greatest asset (to us, and any club in the future) is his versatility. And I hope he finally, fully embraces that, instead of seeing himself as purely a midfielder.


I agree. Alex Ferguson was very good at using this kind of versatility in his players to maximum effect. Park Ji-sung in particular comes to mind. So if Mikel can become as good as Ferguson it’ll work out fine for AMN.


I mean, Park didn’t really play lots of positions — basically just attacking midfield. Better examples in the league would be Ashley Young and James Milner, both of whom have had extremely good careers playing all over the place.


He played pretty much everywhere in midfield, not just attacking. When Ferguson needed someone to do a defensive man-marking job on the opposition’s most dangerous player it was almost always Park’s job too.

Ashley Young and James Milner are great shouts as well, yes.


If you’re going to use an example of Ferguson using a player in that way, John O’Shea is a much better example than Park

Dave Cee

Thank you, I am nearly 50 and still can’t bring myself to mention that man or club :/


Judging by the downvotes, it seems a few people here need some of help to refresh their memory.

Here’s Ferguson saying not putting Park on Messi in the 2011 CL final was one of his biggest mistakes: https://www.sportbible.com/football/football-news-legends-exclusives-sir-alex-ferguson-park-ji-sung-could-have-shut-down-lionel-messi-20210521

He used him that way every time he came up against Pirlo, and I think a couple of times against Yaya Touré as well. And if he needed a secondary marker to help a fullback with a tricky winger, that tended to be Park’s job as well.

Dave Cee

John O’Shea for that lot

Tankard Gooner

Yeah PJS used to play one match a season and it was always against us and he’d play a blinder.
Really hope AMN gets more minutes than that.


I actually feel sorry for AMN; he must be nearing the end of his tether.

The lad is clearly talented, but has been messed about year in, year out – and he hasn’t deserved any of it.

Perhaps he can now finally get a run of games in midfield, where he has always maintained he wants to play.

Anything has got to be better than our resident bang average clowns Plain and Plainer – Xhaka and Elneny.

Jean Ralphio

He said a few weeks or months ago that he wants to play right back


That’s clearly a change of tune though, and at a time when we had 3-4 right backs on the books aside from him.

I agree with Arteta – his ability to play fullback, wingback, midfield, and if needed play as a wing attacker, all without looking badly out of place, makes him quite valuable.

With injuries and Covid he’ll surely get games this season.


Yeah, I am having a lot of groundhog day on this. These are the exact stories and conversations that came out at the start of the last season. And we all know how that went for AMN. I still don’t agree that he’s a midfielder (just doesn’t have the technical quality for it, but he could be an excellent RB if he focussed on it). Really though all I can see is an avenue to another year riding the pine. Not sure why we retained him or even how he was convinced to stay – can’t see him getting the… Read more »


Good god, when is Arteta going to nail down his best 11??!! We are just keeping players around as “just in case” candidates and a whole squad of them.

MA keeps chopping and changing and confusing himself and the players that it leads to unhappiness in the squad. For a guy that is so clear in his communication, at times it feels like he overthinks his strategies and loses the plot.

Total futbol - 9ja made

The Fact that MA and Edu can’t learn from what Buried Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery in Trusting in Granit New Hair, New Adventure Xhaka…. Then they will be buried by Him as well…..

Plain and Simple..


I mean… I understand the frustration, but also it’s kind of OK to a) have squad players and b) adapt to situations. Used correctly, AMN could be a really valuable tool.
The worry, of course, is that Arteta won’t use him correctly…


Players that are good in multiple positions are good to have when you have others that are great in key positions. We need a best 11 if we are to challenge for top of the table and AMN is at a stage where he can be shaped to suit a particular position. ‘Just in case’ players will always be sideshows and that requires a certain mentality & understanding that AMN doesn’t seem to possess (look at his Insta bust up). Unfortunately, we still do not know our best formation or players. MA might use AMN in midfield (though still not… Read more »


In the three matches this season – not to mention training – we’ve had a total mess of injuries and Covid quarantines. Mikel hasn’t had anywhere near his best 11 available for selection, so it’s not surprising we don’t know what that might be, or even mostly be.

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

If Arteta never nails down his best 11, then he can’t ever be blamed for a poor performance as long as any players are out injured. It’s a fool-proof strategy😎

In all seriousness, I think it’s a rotation philosophy he has adopted from Pep. We haven’t had a consistent backline under him since he joined so it must be intentional at this stage. I agree that he should stop hoarding fringe players though that has been a club issue from before he joined.

A Different George

If you have a best 11, and they are injured, sick, or suspended, it can look chaotic. (Also, no one only plays 11; it’s a best 14 or so). I think with everyone available, it’s pretty clear Arteta would start Leno (or Ramsdale–doesn’t really matter for this purpose), with Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney across the back; Partey and Xhaka in midfield; three of Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, and Pepe; and Aubameyang.

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

I think some clubs definitely stick to their best 11 far more than others.

Liverpool, West Ham, Burnley. Leeds, Man Utd and Aston Villa seem to rotate far less than the other clubs in the league. Liverpool, Utd and Aston Villa rarely even use their backups unless there are injury or availability issues.


Probably should have been our starting right back this season, before Tomiyasu, not sure what’s gone on behind closed doors for him to find himself behind Cedric and Chambers. Hopefully it’s all resolved now, still a very useful member of the squad.

I got a hunch Ainsley will start against Norwich.

Naked Cygan

I like AMN a lot and I think he is a good player for a mid-table team like us, but if you have ambition s to finish regularly in the top 4 then he is not good enough. Just being honest.

Dave Cee

Maybe if he got played more he could mature into a top 4 player tho. He has the talent and athleticism

A Different George

He is good enough to be a squad player on a top four team, not a starter. We have some players (Holding, who I also like a lot, probably Chambers) who are not good enough for that.

Rohan Campbell

I don’t disagree with him not being loaned but I believe that there needs to be a clear plan to give him playing time, as this is the only way his career will advance.

Nostalgic Gooner

In other words, Arteta / Edu made a mistake in allowing him to go to West Brom and have learnt from that. Sometimes a manager needs to be selfish and keep players that he’ll need when injuries bite or he wants to change tactics. They won’t be too thrilled but that’s okay. Not everyone in the team gets to play all the time or in their preferred position, and some players make sacrifices for the good of the team. AMN is the new Flamini, capable of doing a job in multiple positions, underrated and under-appreciated by some fans, but a… Read more »


Shit midfield. When Xhaka is your best player… Partey has yet to show anything near some of the hype many prefer to imagine. Its like the new Torreira, where he? Elneny is a bang average player even if I will give him credit he has improved with age and is a hard worker. Sambi is not different from Willock, a young potential. But we sold Joe for 20m then brought Smabi in for 18m which is net 2 m…what was the point. Had we sold Joe for 20m and then if Arteta could man manage and cycle Guendouzi back in,… Read more »


I want every player at this club to feel honoured to pull on the shirt – no matter where they’re being asked to play.


“So, no pressure, Ainsley…just get really good at everything and then we’ll play you when you’re needed in a position which is yet to be decided.” Pretty much… as it should be.

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x