Ainsley Maitland-Niles may be playing out of his favoured position, but he’s already made a big impact this season.
The England Under-21 international claimed an assist in our opening-day win at Newcastle for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, before setting up the striker again in our 2-2 draw at Watford.
Maitland-Niles puts his attacking success this term down to the timing of his runs from right wing-back, and has high hopes for the rest of the campaign.
“I only got two assists last season and I've got two already this season, which is a good start,” he said. “Hopefully I continue with my assists and maybe create more opportunities to get my stats higher this season.
“I worked on it a lot when I was younger because I used to play on the wing, so the timing of my runs is everything to me.
“That's what's going to get me in on goal, that's what's going to get me behind the defence to either pass to someone else or to shoot on goal myself. It was very important for me to learn how to time my runs and create opportunities for others.”
Maitland-Niles has also praised the impact of Freddie Ljungberg, after he stepped up to coach the first team.
“There's quite a few things [I have learnt] really,” he said. “He knows me as a winger, so attacking-wise he's helped my game a lot. Defensively, I go to someone else to help me because they're two different styles that I have to play.
“Him personally, he's pulled me to the side a lot and has shown me different techniques and ways of beating players, ways of crossing the ball and shooting. It's helping me and I'm happy to have him around because he's such a big figure in the team.”
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