Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ fan club certainly grew in size after the teenager’s commanding midfield performance against Southampton.
Stationed alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jeff Reine-Adelaide on the south coast, the England Under-20s captain made more passes, tackles and interceptions than anyone else on the pitch.
- Read our magazine feature with Ainsley
- Ox - My verdict on Ainsley and Jeff
- Watch Ainsley's reaction to his performance
Maitland-Niles’ performance understandably drew praise from Arsene Wenger after the game, and Nigel Winterburn was also impressed with the 19-year-old’s maturity in our midfield.
“All that you can do as a young player when you know you’re going to get limited opportunities in the first team is show the manager what you’re about in training and in games,” he told the Arsenal Weekly podcast.
“You have to be very impressive, confident in what you’re doing, and he was very accomplished on the ball. The thing I liked most, though, was his defending in wide areas around the edge of the box.
“He saw players were out of position and then he was willing to cover those areas, didn’t dive in, and got the vital blocks and challenges in. He will be very happy with his performance and he’ll certainly be giving Arsene Wenger a little nudge in the future for regular first-team football.”
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