Arsenal’s progression in the UEFA Europa League looks assured after a dominant 3-0 win away to Swedish side Ostersunds in the first leg of their Round of 32 clash.
The Europa League has taken on new importance at the Emirates given the opportunity to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League if they lift the trophy in May and Arsene Wenger named a strong side to get the job done against the over-achieving Ostersunds.
Goals from Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil book-ended a Swedish own goal, providing the Gunners with the platform to progress comfortably in next week’s second leg.
While Wenger kept the core of his Premier League starting side intact, it was an opportunity for some to impress, including 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has started just five top-flight games this season.
The youngster was deployed in the centre of midfield, a departure from his usual left flank spot, and impressed supporters overall, breaking up play and moving the ball on efficiently.
There are now calls for him to play in this unusual position more regularly, with some hoping to see him get Premier League action.
Fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts…
Liked Maitland-Niles performance tonight but wanna see him in CM against a good side where he has more defensive work to do. I'm confident he can add a mixture of Xhaka's passing and the engine and defensive work that we really need.
— CD14 (@c_d_14) February 15, 2018
What I like most from the video is Maitland-Niles telling everyone to be intelligent, use their heads and keep a discipline!! 👊🏻 https://t.co/kxhxsO0Rct
— Marcos Loureda (@Loureda84) February 16, 2018
@Ains_7 looked like a potential baller tonight. good to see him in midfield instead of LB.
— Beffo (@StephenBeffo) February 15, 2018
I like Maitland-Niles. I don’t care what you people say. Tell Wenger to keep him in the center
— LIMI✈LESS (@HeeroChima) February 15, 2018
Good to see Maitland Niles in Midfield tonight, lots of positives to his game in that position, needs to play with more urgency at times and also to maintain levels of focus/concentration.
— Matt Ray (@MattRay__) February 15, 2018
@Ains_7 ehat a player. Future star on the making. He impresses me with every game
— taiye ogunnaike (@EveretteAmore) February 15, 2018
Maitland-Niles overly confident style on the ball costs him at times but don't forget that's partly what makes him a special talent. Give him a few years and his decision making will improve massively = less errors.
— Marcus (@MarcusBr22) February 15, 2018
I wanna see Ainsley Maitland-Niles start in the Prem in this role. Really liking this young lad.
— Sequoia W. (@brwnshooga) February 15, 2018
Was it just me or did Maitland-Niles prove today he can do Elneny’s job, just better. He actually looks comfortable moving forward with the ball.
— – (@RegistaXhaka) February 15, 2018