Aaron Ramsey might have walked away with the Man of the Match award on Sunday evening as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles couldn’t have been far away from edging Ramsey for the accolade.
Manager, Unai Emery, opted for a back-three formation once again, which saw Maitland-Niles starting as a wing-back on the right-hand side of the pitch.
And given the defensive troubles Arsenal have had this campaign, many might have seen it as a huge risk by the manager to let someone like Maitland-Niles start the match.
But, the 21-year-old raised to the big occasion and delivered an all-around performance, which was nothing short of spectacular.
The attacking threat of Manchester United has been lethal in recent weeks and the Red Devils went to the Emirates on the back of that impressive Champions League victory at PSG last week.
Maitland-Niles, though, showed why he has been tipped for a big future at the Gunners and just what a versatile player he is to have.
The Arsenal youngster did an excellent job in coping with the Manchester United attackers and did the best he good in handling Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.
In attack, Maitland-Niles – valued at just £6.3m by Transfermarkt – was also very effective and offered extra pace on the flanks to get more numbers behind the ball every time Arsenal pressed up the pitch.
He particularly formed a good partnership with striker Alexandre Lacazette with some quick link-up play
He ultimately had a massive hand in Arsenal’s opening goal where he took the ball up before playing Lacazette, who provided the assist for Granit Xhaka to have a long-range effort, which somehow beat United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Going forward, the fact that Maitland-Niles can play as a defender, wing-back and an attacking winger should be highly encouraging to Emery have such a type of player in his team. It also shows the massive amount of potential Maitland-Niles has to become a regular starter for Arsenal in the near future.
Arsenal fans, how impressed were you by Maitland-Niles? Will he have a big part to play in the future? Join the discussion by commenting below…