Arsenal were expected to pick up all three points against Crystal Palace but we were dealt a harsh reality check. The Eagles held us to a goalless draw and Mikel Arteta can’t have too many complaints over the result.
Our biggest handicap on the night was Kieran Tierney’s absence. The Scotsman has arguably been our best player this season. He has been in tremendous form recently as well, and his injury was the last thing we needed.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaced the former Celtic man but sadly, he had a poor game. He didn’t look anything like his previous self and that completely eliminated all the threat from our left side.
Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith delivered his verdict on Maitland-Niles. He claims that the versatile England international was sloppy at the start, and he never fully recovered from that.
Smith wrote on Sky Sports: “Tierney’s absence wasn’t helped by the fact Ainsley Maitland-Niles endured a bit of a stinker against Crystal Palace.”
“He made a sloppy start, misplacing one or two passes early on and he couldn’t pick it up from there. The team lost its threat on that side.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Yes, Maitland-Niles had a really poor game against Palace on Thursday. The 23-year-old made a mess of simple things, and that attracted a ton of criticism from members of the fan base.
However, the game against Palace was only Maitland-Niles’ fifth league start of the season. He hadn’t played at left-back since November, and it is understandable why he lacked the sharpness.
Arteta and every Arsenal fan will be hoping that Tierney returns to action tonight. Maitland-Niles can fill in at left-back when needed, but he deserves a chance in central midfield – a position he excelled in against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League last month.