Arsenal sent out two Hale End graduates out on loan on transfer deadline day last week. Joe Willock joined Newcastle United while Ainsley Maitland-Niles teamed up with Big Sam Allardyce at West Bromwich Albion.
It is fair to say that both players have a massive future ahead of them. Regular game time at Arsenal was always a concern, and Arsenal are right to send the duo out on loan to get some much needed experience under their belts.
Willock made his debut for Newcastle United against Southampton on Saturday and he stole the show. The 21-year-old took just 16 minutes to score, and he is already on the good side of Magpies supporters – not an easy thing to do.
Maitland-Niles was poor against Spurs
Many Arsenal fans expected Maitland-Niles to follow his compatriot and play Tottenham off the park when he made his debut yesterday. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be, and the versatile Englishman’s performance showed many people why central midfield probably isn’t his best position.
Of course, going to a team as bad as West Brom and turning into prime Andrea Pirlo on debut was never going to happen, but Maitland-Niles’ performance was disappointing on so many levels.
He completed none of his dribbles, lost possession eight times and won just three of his nine attempted duels. (SofaScore) That isn’t a great return, but people shouldn’t write him off just yet.
Maitland-Niles showed in the Europa League that he can hold his own in the middle of the park. He has the quality to drive forward with the ball, and his defensive positioning is not awful either.
He can turn into a quality midfielder in the coming years, but if he wants to remain at a big club, he should consider staying as a full-back who can play in the middle of the park instead of being a midfielder who can fill in as a full-back.
Many Arsenal fans took to social media to have their say on Maitland-Niles’ performance against Spurs in central midfield. Almost all of them are of the same opinion – get back to full-back please, Ainsley.