Maitland-Niles proving to Arsenal he can become strong option in midfield

Arsenal may have been on the losing end of a 2-1 scoreline against Manchester United on Sunday, but there were some positives to take from the performance.

Most of the focus centred around Arsene Wenger and the fact that it was his final battle against the North-West outfit.

Prior to the match, the Frenchman, who will end his two-decade spell as Arsenal boss this summer, received a gift from his old nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson.

On the pitch, the result did not go as planned, but a handful of the Gunners’ young stars impressed, one of which was Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The 20-year-old has made 26 appearances in all competitions this season, but in only three of those has he played in midfield.

In the majority of his outings, Maitland-Niles has been handed full-back positions, but against United, the youngster proved that his future is in the middle of the park.

Maitland-Niles stats vs Man United

In his previous appearances as a midfielder, Maitland-Niles was wasteful on the ball and struggled to impose himself on the contest.

On Sunday at Old Trafford, though, the England Under-21 international formed a decent partnership with Granit Xhaka and showed much more composure and quick decision-making.

Maitland-Niles had the second-best passing accuracy out of Arsenal’s players, with Alex Iwobi bettering him by just 1%.

He also demonstrated defensive strength with two clean-cut tackles and two clearances.

The youngster has been part of the club since 2003 when he joined the academy.