Wenger - Why I started Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has worked his way into our Premier League side this month and he kept his place for the visit of Liverpool.

Some thought that Sead Kolasinac would get the nod on Friday night but the 20-year-old - still finding his feet in a new role - let nobody down.

“His pace is the main reason why he played and I think as well his recovery runs are very good, he has shown that a few times,” Arsene Wenger told

“He came back and I think it’s a positive game, he is 20 years old and what he showed in a game of that stature is very good. It was a big test [against Mohamed Salah], but I think successful, it was a successful performance from him.

“I would say it was a nightmare [for us] in the first half,” the boss went on, “but I was very proud of the players in the second half.

“We showed quality, character, gave everything and overall, I must say, what can you say? Mentally we were not at the level in the first half, you could see incidents of the Manchester United game here where we had the bad start.

“Overall we played too deep, too far from each other, but we were much more compact in the second half and after that we are even frustrated in the end because we were 3-2 up and could have won the game.”

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