Wenger reveals reasons he gave AMN the nod


Arsene Wenger says he picked Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back against Liverpool because of the 20-year-old’s pace and recovery runs.

The England under-20 international was given the nod ahead of summer-signing Sead Kolasinac for the third game in a row as the Gunners started with a traditional back four that featured Nacho Monreal, traditionally a left-back, playing in a centre-back pair with Laurent Koscielny.

Regularly run ragged on the counter-attack by the visitors during the first half, Arsenal counted themselves lucky to be only one goal down at the break before they snatched a remarkable 3-3 draw from 2-0 down. For his part, Maitland-Niles stuck to his task of trying to quell Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and even though some positional inexperience might have proved more costly on another night, the youngster impressed the boss.

“His pace is the main reason why he played and I think as well his recovery runs are very good, he has shown that a few times,” Arsene Wenger told Arsenal.com.

“He came back and I think it’s a positive game, he is 20 years old and what he showed in a game of that stature is very good. It was a big test [against Mohamed Salah], but I think successful, it was a successful performance from him.

“I would say it was a nightmare [for us] in the first half,” the boss went on, “but I was very proud of the players in the second half.

“We showed quality, character, gave everything and overall, I must say, what can you say? Mentally we were not at the level in the first half, you could see incidents of the Manchester United game here where we had the bad start.

“Overall we played too deep, too far from each other, but we were much more compact in the second half and after that we are even frustrated in the end because we were 3-2 up and could have won the game.”

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51 Comments on "Wenger reveals reasons he gave AMN the nod"

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For such an inexpirienced defender, let alone that AMN is not a left back, he did particularly well against Salah. To the point where Salah switched sides with Mane, neither did Mane fare better as he was taken off


I think he did really well. It was the right decision to pick him over Kolasinac as Kolasinac from what I’ve noticed in the last few games in the PL was slow to get back into position and his passing stats were around 60% which considering the amount of times we gave away the ball cheaply, we absolutely could’ve done without.

Also considering the fact that Salah is left footed and looks to cut in works in favour of AMN . So I don’t think he was the problem, in fact imo he was one of our better players.

Iwobi on the other hand hasn’t been good enough for the PL and probably in hindsight Elneny in his place would’ve given us better stability in midfield.

Faisal Narrage

If Kola deserved dropping due to bad form, why are Bellerin and Xhaka still starters?


I agree, and only hope Arsene is protecting AMN because playing in the midfield is a lot more physical task than against wingers like Salah or Mane. AMN looks like a strong lad, but tussling with the likes of Pogba or Wanyama might be a little too much for him right now.


I’m late to the party (again), but this is a good question.
I’d say because there is no one really to replace Bellerin. AW clearly doesn’t trust Debuchy to play over Bellerin (and in a back 3, Debuchy has been in the back, not the wing back). But you are spot on here. Bellerin has been very uneven and at times really poor. Perhaps AW is letting him play himself back to form? Perhaps its a way to turn his head back away from those pricks at Barca?
And Xhaka; apart from his goal against Liverpool (which was AWESOME, BTW. I damn near pissed myself when that went in!), he had a shockingly poor game. How many bad passes? How often is he overrun? I cannot believe AW signed a player like him – that is soo slow. Ramsey is no longer the guy jamming up the works in the middle, its Xhaka. To my eye, he continually slows down play in not a good way.
And Iwobi … I like the lad and want to like his game. I just don’t. Poor passing; poor decision making. He can drive forward, but he’s worse than the Ox on decision making after a decent dribble.

High gunner

tell that to arseblogs player ratings.


Blogs was spot on. Yes AMN was very good in the 1on1s with Salah and he deaweves credit for that. However, 1on1s are not the only thing about defending. He was out of position for the 1st goal and was at fault for defensive positioning twice allowing 2 Firmino headers that really should have gone in. Like Blogs, I’m not blaming AMN – he is not a LB, does not have a full back’s nous/knowledge/instinct and this was entirely on Wenger.


(This comment is in reply to High gunner as well as Gunnerelite)


Miles out of position. When you’re playing a league rival you can’t be afforded the grace of mistakes that are ok in the League Cup. The first goal you can see him casually sauntering from midfield as Liverpool’s front line cuts through the chasm he left behind him. Inexcusable for top managers. Wenger continues to treat big games as testing grounds for new starters and formations and builds himself a baked in excuse for losses.


So only change formations and tactics against lower mid table clubs?

Its so toxic.

Nachos in Montreal

What an outrageously idiotic comment.There is a clear difference between changing tactics and formations,and trying new things out.You can change the playing style in a big game,just make sure you change it to a safe,tried and tested one,with a plan B in case shit goes south.Don’t just throw in a 19 year old right footed midfielder into left back in a big game no matter how good he impressed in training or how good one of his attributes happen to be.

You want said 19 year old to play against lesser opposition to familiarise (and prove!) himself first with the first team before he can be considered a tried and tested option for big games.


Which is exactly what happened. Or did you forget about the two games he played in that position before this game?

nimble foot

The problem with most Deezy is that they are too eager to stick it to the manager. Twisting things and even going blind just to score a point against him. Never argue with them

Kwame Ampadu Down

Clearly not most nimble foot, juat some. And there Is an equal number who are too eager to stick up for the manager and twisting things to score a point for him. It’s just as pointless to argue with them. Both are contributing just as much to the toxicity among Gooners.


I would love to see AMN play RB instead of Hector. He’s naturally right-footed, and it feels like he’d do more on the right. AMN and Kolasinac in their right positions next game?


Or stop messing around, keep Bellerin, bring Kolasinac back in and move Maitland Niles into a midfield 3 with Xhaka and Jack so we can actually start to build a functioning team again?

Kwame Ampadu Down

Or even bring in Coq & tell him to go back to what he’s good at and play AMN & Jack ahead of him. Could give us a really solid base. Leave put Xhaka who is struggling & Iwobi who has been poor for ages now.

Faisal Narrage

And when Ramsey returns, drop Xhaka and have a midfield 3 of AMN-Jack and Ramsey.

Michael Bolton Wanderers
Michael Bolton Wanderers

Yes please.
Xhaka is in danger of becoming as irritating as Dennison and gervinho. Speaking only for myself of course

Andy Mack



Rambo-Wilsh-AMN oh my days yes please. Imagine the workrate in that trio.


If we have a proper LB to rotate, we can move AMN into holding midfield. We might be in a lucky position to land Jose Gaya from Valencia. Kolasinac is reasonably good, but seeing how regularly we use the ageing Monreal in the middle we definitely need another LB.

How are we in a lucky position? All the big clubs have very good LB/LWB starters right now and we can offer a starting role.

Real Madrid – Marcelo
Barcelona – Jordi Alba
Man City – Benjamin Mendy
Chelsea – Cesar Azpilicueta
Man United – Ashley young and Luke Shaw
Bayern – David Alaba
Juventus – Alex Sandro

Come on Raul and Sven, make this happen 🙂


Hector is by far our worst performer this season and is long due some bench time. He has totally lost self-confidence and AMN instead of him on the right and Kolašinac on the left is definitely a better and more dangerous option at the time. AMN is still very young but he is technically very gifted and seeing how reckless Xhaka is I would have even given him the nod ahead of swiss (as long as Rambo is injured and left footed Jack plays as offensive midfielder). Would love to see him playing in his natural position.

bergkamp\'s toe

Bellerin was much better yesterday.


Hector good yesterday and an assist


Xhaka did score don’t forget


A shot that is save by most keepers, the amount of times he does that 1 is bound to go in. Same for any player taking pot shots.


Worse performer?, All the up votes for this?

Bould Statemet

If only it were possible to partner him up with Xhaka and have Wilshere, Ozil and Ramsey in front of them in a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1.


Wenger had all the time (and probably money aswell) in the world to make a team where it wouldnt be necessary to play, a 20 year old right footed midfielder on leftback. Yet here we are doing it, just like we have done all other years. I mean who would have guessed that there are pacy wingers in the pl? I mean if Kolasinac cant fare against pacy players, maybe also buy a leftback who can? The same every year. We are so poorly run, its crazy to think that this is actually a multimillion dollar business.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Kolasinac had done great in every games but the last three or four.


I like him and he is by no means “the” problem in our defence but I’ve noticed he is very casual in retreating after we’ve lost the ball. Perhaps he’s been dropped because of that.


Having a right foot at left back work well against a a left footed right sided winger. Get it. As when salah’ cuts inside on his stronger left foot , the left back who is right footed – strong foot is in exact position to stop the play. I wonder if wenger planned this a couple of weeks ahead of time – testing if a.m.n. Was capable , on top of europa league – to stop salah’

Kwame Ampadu Down

I Don’t wonder. He didn’t.

Why Not

I think he did


Didnt Azplicueta play LB fot Chelsea for a while, quite successfully


i think he’s 2 footed, like maldini, lahm, zambrotta & pesotto etc

we are very good at having right footed midfielders as left backs, flamini and AMN ahahhaha


As a business we’re run pretty soundly.
It’s what we do (or rather don’t do) as a football club that is disappointing. The whole operation needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up.

If recent appointments are anything to go by though, that’s hopefully started.


Asshavin – that’s so true. AMN hadn’t even been conceived when Arsene took the helm at Arsenal!

No other manager has had the same time and opportunity Arsene has haf to construct a functioning rounded team (even accepting there was a post-stadium period where we were limited in who we could buy).

And yet he seems to collect similar types of players (with an aversion to truly wide or defensive players). If the team is unbalanced, that 100% falls at the manager’s feet.

nimble foot

This talk of right footed player on the left is becoming irritating… Robben and Ribery had their best performances playing on opposite flanks (Robben left footed on the right and Ribery right footed on the left) quit this ridiculous whining. When or if AMN comes good on the left you lot would soon say “Wenger STUMBLED ACCIDENTALLY on that solution”

dr Strange

His pace and stamina would be better suited in central midfield with Jack so Xhaka can take a vacation untill the next EL game.

David C

Drop Wilshere or Xhaka and put AMN in as a defensive midfielder. He is excellent defensively and we need some of that in mid.


Or play all three in midfield – jack . Xhaka . Miles and drop iwobi and move ozil a little wider


He isn’t excellent. At least not yet. What works for him right now is that he works hard and has the athleticism with the quickness. Unlike are much maligned Xhaka who may work hard but doesn’t have the athleticism or quickness.

Mesut O\'Neill

Why the **** is Wenger still going on about the Man Utd game.

Where is your mental fortitude?

A Different George

On Liverpool’s third goal, I saw Mustafi play pretty well one-on-one, I saw Xhaka and Wilshere desperate to get back in cover, but without the pace to do it, and I didn’t see Maitland-Niles at all. (I also think Blogs is being very generous to Cech on that goal–though I thought Cech was very good, maybe excellent, the rest of the match.)

Sire Squiff

I say you fellows – I rather fear that Mr Alli chap is a complete bounder!


How many games is it going to take before we actually begin the first half ready to play. Don’t get me wrong, the fact we can recover is a good thing but the fact we have to recover in the first place is alarming. We never seem ready!

Maybe Wenger should just say whatever he says at half time before kickoff eh


The fact on the broadcast that we have only won 2 out of the last 109 times in the pl where we are trailing at halftime is simply astounding


is this our monsieur’s last season. can forgive anything if it is.


get a good manager at Arsenal and you’ll see this squad transformed