Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was asked why Ainsley Maitland-Niles was dropped entirely from the squad for last night’s game against Newcastle United.
The versatile Englishman started Arsenal’s last game against Crystal Palace. Maitland-Niles, as Gunners legend Alan Smith described on Sky Sports, was ‘sloppy’ at the start and never quite recovered after that.
Nobody expected him to start last night after his poor display against Palace, but to see him dropped entirely from the squad was a shock to many.
Arteta was quizzed about the situation and the Arsenal boss claimed that Maitland-Niles has to earn his spot. He said it’s upto the Englishman to show how much he wants to be in the team – which means he didn’t quite show enough to make the cut last night.
He said: “He needs to compete for his place like everybody else. There have been a lot of players who have been left out of the squad and they have less minutes.”
“Ainsley has played some minutes in the league, he’s played a lot of minutes in the Europa League. He’s played in the Emirates FA Cup, he’s played semi-finals and finals for us. So it’s about him, his performances and how much he wants to be in the team.” (Arsenal.com)
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ versatility makes him a very useful player in the squad. The Englishman can play on both wings, in both full-back positions and anywhere across central midfield.
His quality and skill on the ball combined with his natural athleticism makes him a manager’s dream, but he is often very casual on the pitch which is extremely infuriating.
Arteta wanted him gone in the summer but he changed his mind just before Wolves could lure him away. He could put him on the transfer list again at the end of this season if Maitland-Niles does not work his way back into the squad in the coming weeks.