I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing the player but it needs to be said. Ainsley Maitland-Niles dropped a right clanger against Barcelona and in doing so highlighted a big flaw in his game or indeed personality that unless fixed will prevent him from making it at the top level.
I really like Ainsley’s game, I like his pace, I like his ability to beat a man and put in a decent cross. I like the way he drives into the box. Going forwards he’s capable of being a chaos player and that in itself is invaluable.
Defensively, when called upon he can be really solid. His recovery pace makes up for a lot of naivety and he is sharp in the tackle. His ability to nick the ball off players is very good and I could see him operating in the middle of the park, driving forwards in transitions.
I worry hugely about his temperament.
He’s so laid back he’s practically horizontal. The horror on his face at the goal he conceded on Sunday night was probably the most emotion he’s shown in his entire Arsenal first team career. I hope it is a lesson learned.
Unflappable is good, confident is good. Casual is bad. Top level football is about precision, desire, reliability and performance. You can’t half-arse yourself around and switch off. The second you do top-level players will take advantage of you.
As it was, noone needed to, the lax attitude allowed him to neatly slot the ball past Leno into the far corner, just ahead of a scrambling Sokratis.
I like Ainsley, I want him to succeed at Arsenal. So I hope this is the start of a change.
Come on Ainsley, you’re one of our own.