Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Gunners head coach has addressed how he will use Ainsley Maitland-Niles after the deadline day arrival of Cedric 

Following Arsenal's January transfer business, Ainsley Maitland-Niles' career could finally start to take shape as he initially hoped.

The 22-year-old is a midfielder by trade and has publicly displayed his desire to play at the heart of midfield but hasn't had consistent opportunities to do so. Since breaking into the side in the 2017/18 season, he has mostly been used as a makeshift full-back with occasional midfield outings.

With Hector Bellerin returning to fitness and Cedric Soares signing on loan, however, there may be enough cover for him to move up the pitch Although he had a difficult time at right-back under Unai Emery, he has excelled there with Arteta's guidance. Playing more as an inverted full-back, he has been more conservative but more effective as he played a key role in the Gunners' defensive and offensive play.

Despite his improvement at right-back Mikel Arteta hasn't shied away from the fact that isn't his position but has now opened the door for him to move.

"He can play in various positions and do really well at full-back as well," Arteta said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Burnley.

"He’s a very useful player with great speed, technically gifted, a good passer of the ball and he can play as an attacking midfielder because he’s a threat every time with his runs.  And he can play a holding midfielder because he’s played a lot there in his career.

Arteta explains why Arsenal signed Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari,

"It’s good to have players that can play in various positions."

Arteta's vision has been increasingly clear as the January transfer window has reached its close. Rather than signing players for the sake of it, he
and the club's hierarchy have decided to go for the low-risk options of Pablo Mari and Cedric.

Despite these players being low-risk additions, they embody what Arteta is trying to bring to his side - balance. Mari arrives as a left-footed centre-back the Spaniard wants to bring balance to the Gunners defence as Cedric arrives as the much-needed second natural right-back in the squad.

Pursuing these players specifically, Arsenal were clearly in the market for certain types of players. Having these specific types of players in his squad is something that he is actively trying to achieve even without his new signings.

"We have some necessities in certain areas, playing some players in positions that are not really their positions," he added.

"With more time I would like to have specialists for every position to do exactly what we want to do. But Ainsley has adapted really well to that position (right-back), the same as Buklayo (Saka at left-back).

"They have been really helpful so why not, they can still play in those positions (full-back) but naturally they are other type of players."

Despite the return/acquisition of more senior players possibly aiding position changes for Maitland-Niles and Saka, Arteta also stressed that each player's future game time depends on how much they impress him.

"Players are going to start games if they deserve to play and they perform at the level of this football club whether they are academy players or not," the Spaniard said.

"This club needs competition of two or three players in each position to fight. If they are able to fight and compete and they are better than the other ones, they will play.  


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