Maitland-Niles on the tweet that warmed his heart

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles says praise earned from Arsene Wenger, relayed to him via Twitter, warmed his heart when he read it after the 1-0 win over Newcastle United in December.

The 20-year-old, making just his second Premier League start at the time, was asked to play at left-back and not only defended well but also caught the eye in an attacking capacity.

Impressed by what he saw the boss said in his press conference, “I believe he is the future.” Words that were seized upon by the club’s social media team.

Asked about the comments ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Chelsea, Maitland-Niles told Arsenal.com: “When I looked at the tweet, my heart warmed because Arsène Wenger is such an intelligent man and a legend at the club.

“For him to say something about me like that is just an amazing feeling. I literally did smile when I looked at the tweet.”

Maitland-Niles also touched on how he’s spent the last few months improving his defensive game, in light of the game time he’s been afforded as part of a back four and a back five. He’s at pains to stress that playing as a full-back has never phased him, despite being a midfielder by trade.

“Even before I was playing full back, I used to train with the first team at full back when the boss called me over,” he continued.

“It just showed that he really believed in me already, so I just thought I had to take some stuff on in case I needed it in the future. That’s the type of person I am. I wouldn’t look at the negatives like, ‘Oh I don’t want to play at full back’, I would always try to take something out of the session. I did learn a lot.

On his relationship with the other defenders, he added: “Per’s just been saying for me to keep my focus at all times. I should always keep in constant communication with my centre back. When it was with Rob [Holding] either he would go and I’d drop or I would go and he’d drop. It was just about winning the ball.

“I’ve been focusing on [improving my heading too] and getting up, the timing and heading the ball. I do have an alright leap but it’s just about timing, keeping my eye on the ball and then wanting to win the headers against the bigger strikers.”

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31 Comments on "Maitland-Niles on the tweet that warmed his heart"

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SB Still

One bright spot amongst all other troubles.

Now that Coq has been sold, hope AMN gets a few games in the middle.

David C

was thinking the same thing. He is fairly 2 footed and doesn’t seem to panic on the ball. Could he play in the ole Santi role? I think so.

santori

This would be foolish to the extreme.

Midfield is a delicate role where experience counts.

See Arteta and Santi both converted from further forward at a later age to control our centre.

People are too easily carried away by the bright spots without also seeing the faults.

Against Palace, AMN failed to track runners into our box on two occasions which near ended in goals. Plus he misplaced a pass to Elneny into the middle which was almost converted by Zaha.

He has a lot of learning curve to go before he can even be considered to play the role.

he is better off continuing his education as a fullback.

Maul Person

So he made 3 mistakes in an entire game and that means he’s ineligible to play in midfield? How many mistakes to the EXPERIENCED players make?! As for Santi and Mikel, they were older and used to playing further up the field. AM-N is learning so this suggests he’s more adaptable. You don’t think?

caligunner

So then what Arsenal did to Calum Chambers was the right call? Let him learn playing a different position?

People are easily carried away? Aren’t you saying the same thing about Iwobi how impressed you were by him in one game?

Vladimir

I Totally agree with you. But at the same time the options, which we have in the DCM position are not mind blowing.
We put there either Elneny, who get scared by the thought to pass the ball forward and most of the time is running like a headless chicken. The other option is Granit, who actually is not a DCM. He has a better passing range, but is making a whole lots of mistakes, when he is put under pressure (already made a lot of them, which accounted for goals). And both of them are way, way slower than AMN. I would say give the boy a chance, it could not be worse than it already is.

Rogerbij

I like the player too, but no way would I put him in the middle this season already. Thats where ball security is key, the correct reading of the game and making the right choices, it’s more physical, and you’re more likely to be shown up when you make a mistake. It’ll come but not yet please.

Bert

So you would rather have Xhaka

Rogerbij

yes

Squiggle

I’d be interested to see Kolasinac given a run in midfield.

Xstopper

It’s evident that he’s learning and growing
More to come
Surely

Mein Bergkampf

There is more to come, but don’t call me Shirley.

Mayor McCheese

Is this a poem?

Ausdrexler

Perfect attitude. Instead of complaining, make most of the opportunities afforded to him.

Vonnie

I really like this young man, he has the right attitude to go with the talent.

Don Cazorleone

cool as a coolcumber too

Alwaysagooner

Great to see such a positive approach given he’s just 20!
Wish some of it would also rub on our supporters who moan (at the manager, I know) every time he is played at left back.

Merteslacker

Spot on attitude. We need more like AMN to step up to the plate and encourage others , only way to get out of the rut we’re in

Gooner49

Congrats on a really promising start. Hope you stay grounded and when you achieve world class status, you don’t let your head get turned by certain despicable managers. I’m looking forward to you getting the winning goal against that terrible bunch of cave dwellers who are camped nearby. I can’t even abide to put their name in print. Best of luck kid.

Mrs Maitland-Niles

Best player at the club

santori

Great prospect. Grabbed his opportunity.

Comfortable on the ball. I think we need to consider him as /competition for Bellerin.

We should maybe keep Monreal for another season, Kolasinac will be first berth at Lback but Cohen Bramall and Vlad Dragomir also potential prospects over the next season.

AMN should continue his education at fullback rather than be given another role. We do not want him to be prescribed the path of Calum.

In any case right side is his natural side and we need better than what Debuchy is willing to give right now, the Frenchman should be sold if we can.

Midfield opportunities for AMN will come next season in competitions less detrimental should he make mistakes. Midfield is a difficult position and one with more consequence than fullback. If you get it wrong, the whole defense is laid bare. Which is why players like Mikhitaryan may bring to bear better experience if deemed convertable to role…if not we need to look very diligently into this area come the summer.

Runzac

Please remember to support this young man when his form dips – sky´s the limit if everything works out

A P

You know that won’t happen given what we witnessed over the years.

SB Still

Off topic: Lee Johnson for Asst. Mgr for the next season and half (not automatic mgr after)?

What a run in the League Cup.

MrSymes

The most important thing is his moustache makes him look like a ’70s detective.

DarylC

A footballing brain and ice cool confidence. A lethal combination!

fatwinger

*fazed not phased.

Don’t publish, just wanted to point that out.

ronaldo

still cant see him as a regular he has had a nightmare in the last couple of games he is a sub at best , and what happened to nelson , he was once all the rage at one time , where is he now , I can see the same thing happening to niles

Vonnie

Poor Ronaldo, so negative all the time, does anything ever make you happy?

jackbut

”keeping my eye on the ball and then wanting to win the headers against the bigger strikers.”

that pretty sums it.