Having forged a regular spot for himself in the Arsenal line-up last season, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has mainly been sidelined since Unai Emery’s takeover.
Maitland-Niles has been out of action with an injury to his fibula since Arsenal’s opening day loss at home to last year’s league winners, Manchester City, but is expected to return to training in the coming weeks.
The English midfielder could be back training with the first team in the second week of the international break, with Premier Injuries teeing the former Ipswich-loanee to be available for selection when the Premier League returns on 22nd October.
In Arsene Wenger’s final year as Arsenal manager, Ainsley Maitland-Niles proved himself to be an adaptable player having mostly been deployed as cover at left back for Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolašinac.
Predominantly, Maitland-Niles had previously been utilised in the centre of the pitch and on the right-hand side in both midfield and defence, before finding his feet on the left flank.
Having the 21-year-old back amongst the first team will aid Arsenal’s defensive decision making having been thin on numbers at left back, but the Englishman will need to force his name back to the front of the list with Nacho Monreal the number one choice for the position.
Maitland-Niles has also fallen down the pecking order in the centre of midfield with Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka the regular men Emery has called on so far, and Mattéo Guendouzi improving with every game.
Maitland-Niles will likely find his place in Emery’s Arsenal in the Europa League by deputising in the rotation squad having fallen down the depth chart.
These minutes will be vital for the player to prove he still has a place at Arsenal as the new manager continues to build what he believes to be the best squad to push the club on to the next level having already won nine successive games in all competitions.
Continuing Arsenal’s run of form in Europe is again likely to be the best way the north London side will return to the Champions League amidst a very competitive bunch of teams vying for a top-four finish.