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


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


Welcome , please leave your message below.

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

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 tale of two penalties decided the Islington Primary Schools’ Years 3-4 Boys’ Cup final as St Joan of Arc emerged victorious.

Mon, 13:01

Arsene Wenger turned 67 on Saturday, but his team failed to give him the birthday present he coveted most – three points against Middlesbrough.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Unbeaten Archway light-middleweight Tony Milch intends to demonstrate his championship credentials when he returns to the ring at York Hall next month.

Friday, October 21, 2016

On paper at least, the Gunners face a fairly straightforward contest against a misfiring Middlesbrough side at the Emirates on Saturday. Indeed, William Hill’s 12/1 odds, posted in favour of an away win, provide a clear indication of the strength of Arsenal’s favouritism.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Islington BC’s Jerome Campbell praised his coaching team after reaching the last four of the National Development Championship with a confident display on Sunday.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oleg Yurkevyah and Constantin Tronciu both netted hat-tricks for Niva FC as they thrashed Wounded Knee 8-0 in the Hackney & Leyton League Premier Division.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Arsenal’s first match against Bulgarian opposition was a successful one, as Arsene Wenger’s men ran out comfortable 6-0 winners on matchday three of the Uefa Champions League group stage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Andy Maud finished second on his Metropolitan League debut to lead Highgate Harriers to victory in their opening race of the season at Claybury.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport


Show Job Lists


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now