Wenger: Left-back stint will help Maitland-Niles develop

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Arsene Wenger says playing Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back will help the youngster develop new aspects to his game ahead of a potential career in the centre of midfield.

In the absence of Nacho Monreal and an injury to Sead Kolasinac, the 19-year-old has been a regular starter on the left side of Wenger’s defence, both in a four-man unit and as a wing-back alongside three centre-backs.

The decision to play such an inexperienced player out of position in important games since December initially raised eyebrows on the terraces, but Wenger insists that the Academy graduate is showing promising signs.

“You have to find a good balance between confidence and urgency,” Wenger said of the positive start made by Maitland-Niles.

“I’m pleased with his performances. What I’m really pleased with is that his urgency level raises game after game. You could see that at Chelsea [in the Carabao Cup semi-final], even if sometimes he was a bit too confident.

“I must also say that he also has this capacity to repair any mistakes through his pace and his recovery runs, which are absolutely exceptional.”

On how he came to play the England youth international in defence, he revealed: “To be honest, I put him there in pre-season because sometimes we had no left footed players available there so I insisted with him.

“I think sometimes you have to start your career in a position that is not yours and to show that you can adapt. That develops a lot of qualities that are absolutely vital.

“Ainsley is a central midfield player and I hope that he will play in there at some stage and that he convinces there.

“Overall, when you’re a young player, you want to play. And no matter where you play, you play.

“You also develop other aspects [to your game], for example, up against the [touch] line he develops a short technique that will help him when he moves inside.”

Having sold Francis Coquelin this week, the boss also hinted that Maitland-Niles could get more action in his preferred midfield position as the season develops. Quite a carrot to be dangled in front of an exciting prospect.

“Francis left for Valencia so that opens one more spot for him. That’s a possibility that he plays there, yes.”

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nullvinho
nullvinho

Arsene knows

Ars
Ars

He don’t

twisted cuntloks
twisted cuntloks

Isn’t it a better idea to ‘educate’ AMN at left back against lesser opposition instead of top teams that can kill his confidence and expose him?

Do the best managers in the world pursue this kind of education to this extreme considering he is right footed while putting the team at such risk in important games?

I can’t recall Oxlade-Chamberlain being put in defence after a few first team matches…

Ayleym
Ayleym

Like he said oxlade was a central midfield player yet always played him on the wings

And that theo was a striker yet again played him in the wings for his ‘education’

I hope he doesn’t do the same with Ainsley

Best Coast Gunner
Best Coast Gunner

He’s been one of the real high points in this generally disappointing season. I wish him nothing but the best going forward and can’t wait to see what he can do actually playing in his best position.

Fabulous
Fabulous

The thing with any youngster is to keep their head down and work hard to improve. The difference between having the occasional good game to consistently delivering is in how you carry yourself daily; from your diet, to sleeping routines, to exercising, pre-game preparations and the likes. We’ve seen plenty of talents within our academy go to waste due to the above. Even someone as promising as Jack had to work the long way to come back to progressing his career. I hate to say this but look at Harry Kane and how he carries himself, use that as a benchmark and I’m sure AMN will go far.

Rossi88
Rossi88

Probably explains why Coquelin and Oxlade moved on, Cazorla bless him probably won’t play again?…this lad convinced him HE is the best option in the middle going forward, or at least AW believes in him more and made space for him to progress through. Plus Willock coming through. I’m liking having 4 or 5 English boys in team, let alone match day squads. Maitland also has that burst of pace like Jackie boy, to break through lines. Looks very promising. On a side note, I still think we could strengthen CM/DM, amongst others positions.

Rossi88
Rossi88

Seems his mum was right all along…

Mrs Maitland-Niles
Mrs Maitland-Niles

A mother is always right

Laughing Stock
Laughing Stock

All these years managers have just been playing players in their proper positions and it turns out they were wrong.

Don Cazorleone
Don Cazorleone

But there was no space for him to play in CM, with Rambo, Xhaka, Wilshere, Elneny already filling those positions.

With Monreal moving inside and Kolasinac our injured, it was a chance for him to get some game time without dropping senior players.

Ok perhaps NOW there is an argument to be made for him to start in CM over Elneny and possibly Xhaka (borderline), but that is only because he has been played at left back and we can see how he’s coped.

If Arsene had just randomly one day started playing him over fit, senior midfielders and we’d have lost; the fans would have slaughtered them both.

To my mind, this is an example of very good player management

Uhtred
Uhtred

One of the bright parts of the season is seeing the kid develop..strong finish to the season please boys..

Diarra
Diarra

A lot negative can be said about this season but some credit has to go to Wenger of how he has managed AMN, Willock, Eddie and Nelson. Little by little they have been introduced to the first team without putting too much pressure on them (albeit with some costs – the FA cup). The benefits could be seen during the coming 2-3 seasons.

Vonnie
Vonnie

They didn’t cost us the cup, that was senior players like Walcott and Welbeck. We would have been better just putting the under 23s out there.

Diarra
Diarra

Don’t agree with you. The senior players didn’ perform but if we had Alexis, Wilshere, Xhaka, Lacazette in the squad in the place of the youngsters we would probably have won the match. The young players weren’t at fault but surely playing them affected the team.

Timsh
Timsh

Bit unrelated, I know, but can anyone tell me why I dreamed Mo Elneny scoring a screamer of a free kick in the 90th minute to win us the game today?
Why would anyone let him take the free kick with 5 seconds to go and why would he play at all???

If Wenger dreams stuff like that, maybe it explains his team selections…

Gudaffiduck
Gudaffiduck

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has got to be one of the most middle class names I’ve heard. Either way whar a baller, so much talent.

ArseAboutFace
ArseAboutFace

Another player with talent destroyed because an idiot cannot learn from the countless same mistakes he has made with previous young players.
Was Messi played in central defence?
Was Ronaldo played at right back?
Was De Bruyne played as a goal keeper?
Of course not.
If Wenger was such a great coach of young players surely we would be doing much better than we are….

Runzac
Runzac

Henry started out wide. Really don’t know why I´m dignifying your abusive comment. If you want AW out it´s easy to be heard in a respectful way.

caligunner
caligunner

So you are saying AMN is Messi? Ronaldo? KDB?

If he is then we would have been starting year ago. He isn’t. This is a good way to learn to play.

If the policy in your mind is keep players at the position they played coming out of the academy then AMN would still be just another young player waiting for a chance to play because he would have been deep on the bench. Only reason we know who he is because the good shifts he’s put in LB.

GHunner
GHunner

This is not strange with Wenger. Most of his CMs have always started from the flanks. It’s just harder to do in this instant-mix football society.

Thomas Lambert
Thomas Lambert

Name them…. I’ll wait.

Don Cazorleone
Don Cazorleone

Oxlade-Chamberlain was always supposed to become CM.

Although not starting their careers out wide, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ozil have all played out wide for us, which Arsene always claims is good for development as a central player.

Cazorla played out wide, and I’m fairly sure he had played out wide for Malaga and Spain before coming to us and playing CM.

Henry also started life as a winger – got moved inside, and we all know what happened there.

Ross
Ross

Didn’t he start off as AMR and play most of his Ipswich stint there? I could be wrong but though he was playing there initially and impressing. He looks good going forwards also so wouldn’t mind seeing him have a few goes in an attacking position from the right

Mrs Maitland-Niles
Mrs Maitland-Niles

You can tell from the way he talks about Ainsley that Wenger really rates him

ronaldo
ronaldo

no it wont

Dave Hyland
Dave Hyland

Ospina to do a Right-Back stint to help him develop. If we don’t have the players for the current tactics maybe…change the tactics to suit the players we have. Too radical an idea maybe.