Press conference

Wenger - I believe Ainsley is the future

Ainsley Maitland-Niles made just his second Premier League start on Saturday, three days after his first, and Arsène Wenger was impressed with what he saw from the youngster.

The manager spoke to the media after our 1-0 win over Newcastle, and praised the 20 year old's contribution at left back, while also assessing Jack Wilshere's performance, the quality of our finishing and his thoughts on Rafael Benitez's job.

on Ainsley Maitland-Niles…

I believe he is the future. He can play left back, right back, central midfield. Of the three positions, maybe the least natural for him is left back, but he adapts very quickly and is a good defender. He has that sense of one against one, he is very strong, he is very quick, he has very quick recovery runs when he comes back. He has some aspects to learn: experience and he has to work on his heading. But overall, what he has done in the last three days is positive.

on Jack Wilshere completing another 90 minutes…

It’s positive. I believe that he has the basic stamina, he is like the rest of the team, he was a bit less sharp than on Wednesday night but overall what was very positive was that he didn’t weaken at all and he had this presence and his dribbling going forward. He did a good defensive job as well and overall, I’d say it’s positive that he can produce two games of that quality in four days. Let’s not forget that Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon is two and a half days, so that’s the most difficult.

on whether the game was hard work…

I would say we had plenty of chances we didn’t take. You could see that we wanted sometimes to force it a little bit, the fact that we didn’t score recently, the chances we had, played a little bit on our mind. But I would have loved it to have been a bit more comfortable on the scoreline but what was even more important was to get the three points and that’s what we did. Overall we had a serious game and you could see that we played three games in six days and the third game is a bit more difficult physically.

on Newcastle threatening to equalise late on…

We knew before the game it was a game where we had to be well-organised on set pieces, long balls and counter-attacks but we are an offensive team. I think we had plenty, plenty of chances but as long as you are at 1-0 you know a moment in the game comes where you are under threat and they have a chance. It is like that in the Premier League. When you look around, Chelsea played at home against Southampton and won 1-0. It is their third game. We are the only team basically that played Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday.

on whether the problem is the quality of the chances or the finishing itself…

I would say it’s the finishing. The quality of the chances was quite good.

on Rafael Benitez…

I think he is doing a good job because Newcastle is not one of the teams who invested hugely when they came up to complete at the top. So I believe the team overall look to me to be organised, they look mobile, and look to have a good spirit. The job of a manager is to take the best from the potential of his team and I believe Benitez does that very well.

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