The Premier League season will resume again on Wednesday 17th June. It kicks off when Aston Villa host Sheffield United before Pep Guardiola faces his former assistant Mikel Arteta when Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium at 8:15 pm, a game that will surely attract a lot of attention as it is shown live on Sky Sports.
With both clubs likely to have nearly full squads to choose from given that players would have had time to recover following the global pandemic, and the fact that more subs will be allowed, it is maybe anyone’s guess as to who will start the game.
However, one player who is likely to start for Man City is Kevin De Bruyne. With eight goals and 16 assists in 26 appearances in the top flight so far in the 2019/20 campaign, according to Transfermarkt, it would arguably be surprising that the Belgian ace does not given his influence on the team.
The Gunners will need to find a way to stop his influence on the pitch, and perhaps an unlikely hero that could step up to the plate is Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Arteta may have given a glimpse of what his starting eleven could look like in the 6-0 thrashing of Charlton Athletic in a friendly, as AMN played in the centre of midfield, as per AFC’s official website.
Does Maitland-Niles have a future in central midfield at Arsenal?
The 22-year old has not yet played in this role so far in this term professionally, but the Spanish coach has previously told Sky Sports (via The Daily Mirror) that he can play as a central midfielder, which is a position that he preferred at youth level.
It may be time for the Englishman to step up and hold down a regular place at the Emirates, and he could do just this by stopping De Bruyne in midfield. He certainly has the attributes to do a job in a holding role, with his defensive attributes likely to have been improved from making 15 appearances at right-back and two appearances at left-back this term.
Yes it will be a tall order as he is likely to come up against one of the best in the business in KDB. But as Arteta begins building a new era at Arsenal, Maitland-Niles could put down a marker by keeping the Belgian quiet and potentially therefore writing his name into the Spaniard’s plans for the remainder of the campaign and perhaps even longer term.
Gooners, can you beat City on Wednesday? Comment below!
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