After picking up three wins in a row in the Premier League, Arsenal were brought somewhat back to a grinding halt with a drab 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace on Thursday night.
Mikel Arteta’s side just didn’t look like the free-flowing side that thrashed West Brom 4-0 last time out in the top-flight, with the Eagles’ defence restricting them to just four shots on target.
Before the game, the Gunners were handed a major blow when Kieran Tierney was ruled out due to muscle soreness, and that meant Ainsley Maitland-Niles was brought back in from the cold to start at left-back.
It was the perfect opportunity for the England international to stake his claim and show Arteta why he needs to be in his thinking, but he completely fluffed his lines.
As per Sofascore, he lost possession 13 times over the course of the game, but had a particularly shocking start to the beginning of the match that arguably set the tone for the rest of his night – via Squawka, he misplaced six of his 17 passes in the opening 20 minutes, including one inexplicable one that cost his side a corner.
The Gunners desperately needed a fast start to ensure Palace couldn’t just sit back, but Maitland-Niles’ sloppiness and casualness on the ball cost Arsenal repeatedly as they looked to launch forward.
He failed to provide any of the thrust that Tierney usually brings down that left-hand side, making no accurate crosses whatsoever and providing no key passes – compare that to the Scotland international recently, who has provided a whopping 11 key passes and six accurate crosses in his last four games.
Andrew Allen, deputy editor for Arseblognews, described Maitland-Niles as having an “absolute stinker“, whilst Dan Critchlow, senior writer for The Daily Cannon, simply said his passing was “disastrous“.
Such was his performance, that some Arsenal fans took to Twitter wanting him to be sold immediately.
Maitland Niles is awful I don’t care what anyone says. Sell him to Wolves.
— Freeman (@FreedaReals) January 14, 2021
We need to sell Maitland-Niles he’s not good enough man
— Kofi 👨🏾💻 (@KofiAgyem) January 14, 2021
Arsenal needs to sell Maitland Niles and get a young understudy for Tierney
— Vusumuzi Makubalo (@VusaMakubalo) January 14, 2021
Sell Maitland Niles I’ve had enough
— Jatt Grealish (@a_dmp9) January 14, 2021
SELL MAITLAND NILES NOWWWW BRUV
— OJ💷 (@OnIyLoveLizzy) January 14, 2021
Have to sell AMN to be honest. He has no future here. Wont get into the midfield or stay on the wings.
— ꪶꫀꫀ (@ThatOneGooner) January 14, 2021
Time to sell AMN at the end of the season. His times up, for 30 mil we could get a much better full back.
— GB (@GB1788) January 14, 2021
time to sell pepe and AMN @m8arteta
— Pattrick (@AFCpatt) January 14, 2021
Tierney’s importance to the team has been seen over these past few weeks with his own collection of goals and assists. But his stock rose even higher on Thursday thanks to Maitland-Niles’ shocker, and Arteta simply has to axe him from the starting line-up for the clash against Newcastle.