Search

All Guns Blazing: Why Ainsley Maitland-Niles could make the cut at Arsenal

10:59 10 December 2014

Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles holds off challenge from Derby County's Alefe Santos

Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles holds off challenge from Derby County's Alefe Santos

EMPICS Sport

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, youth blogger Jeorge Bird takes a look at Arsenal’s latest debutant.

Players from Arsenal’s Under-21 squad are often invited to train with the first team to provide cover when players are injured, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been beckoned over to the senior training pitches on a regular basis in recent weeks.

The 17-year-old’s progression over the past two years has been meteoric, and after he was named among the substitutes for Arsenal’s Premier League game away at Stoke City on Saturday, Maitland-Niles made his debut in the 4-1 win at Galatasaray on Tuesday, replacing Aaron Ramsey at half-time.

Last season he caught the eye with some outstanding performances as a right winger but, this campaign, he has undergone a transformation into an all-action central midfielder.

With pace and flair in abundance, Maitland-Niles is capable of driving forward and scoring goals, while his tactical awareness and the defensive side of his game have noticeably improved since his positional change.

It may have seemed too soon for Maitland-Niles to appear in the first team, especially in the Champions League, but his incredible work ethic and determination have been rewarded.

He has always had a tendency to be one step ahead of most of his contemporaries, having featured in the NextGen Series as a schoolboy before going on to star for the Under-21s in his first season as a scholar.

Earlier this year he was rewarded for his progress with his first professional contract and Arsene Wenger has clearly been keeping tabs on his development.

If Arsenal’s injury problems persist then Maitland-Niles can look forward to further first-team training sessions, which will surely only accelerate his development even further.

He also has matters to attend to at youth level too, though. Maitland-Niles is a major part of the Arsenal Under-21s team that is attempting to work their way back into the top tier of football at that age level, while he is still eligible to feature in the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup, two competitions in which he delivered some scintillating performances last season.

It can be difficult to judge whether a player is capable of performing at first-team level, regardless of their displays for the youth teams. But Maitland-Niles appears to have the character to succeed and, if he doesn’t make it, it certainly won’t be for the lack of trying.

Follow me @jeorgebird

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Sports News

A visibly delighted Arsene Wenger praised hattrick hero Alexis Sanchez or his ‘killer instinct’ after his treble routed West Ham United 5-1 at their new home the London Stadium.

Arsenal sent a message to the rest of the Premier League after an impressive display of power and glory at the West Ham United’s London Stadium this evening by winning 5-1.

Fri, 07:15

Islington cruiserweight Joe Seabrook has vowed to raise his game this weekend when he makes his second appearance in the Queensbury Boxing League.

Fri, 07:00

Following another Alexis Sanchez-inspired win over Bournemouth at the weekend, Arsenal maintained their pursuit of the top three – and they will fancy their chances of moving a little closer to the leading trio when they face West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Thu, 09:00

Two heads are better than one, the saying goes – and that’s certainly been the guiding principle behind the establishment of Blacksmiths FC.

Wed, 17:00

Amy Andrew overcame a bout of flu – and some controversial judging – to clinch victory for Islington BC in their team match in Jersey.

Wed, 15:30

Mark Stephenson grabbed his second goal in as many games but Islington & Camden Under-14s had to settle for a share of the points as they drew 2-2 at Haringey.

Wed, 13:01

Adam Saci led the way for Sobell Karate Club with a double gold medal success in the annual Portsmouth Open tournament.

PROMOTED CONTENT

If your favourite pair of shoes are on their way out, you might be thinking of throwing them away.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now