One of my colleagues wrote this morning that Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles is set to be handed a new deal with the north London club.
The 20-year-old has impressed playing out-of-position at left wing-back for Arsene Wenger’s team in the last few months. Maitland-Niles is naturally a midfielder and made a number of appearances for England under-20’s in his favoured position as the junior lions won the World Cup.
Ainsley-Niles selection at in an unfamiliar position has blocked the path to the starting eleven of versatile Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac, who arrived at the club from Schalke in the summer.
Spanish defender Nacho Monreal also played at left-back ahead of Kolasinac in Saturday’s thumping 5-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
A mixed start to his Arsenal career
Kolasinac arrived in north London with a big reputation, despite joining on a free transfer. The Gunners beat off competition from the likes of Everton and Chelsea to sign the 24-year-old.
He was renowned in the Bundesliga for his marauding runs from out of defence at Schalke. However, the defender tried that a few times when playing at centre-back earlier in the season and it cost the team goals.
He has tremendous power and strength, two important attributes for a wing-back. Kolasinac is definitely better going forward than he is defensive, which can cause problems if he is playing as a left-back in a flat-back four.
The Gunners have played with wing-backs for most of the season, but even wing-back need decent defensive ability. Kolasinac definitely needs to improve defensively if he is to become a regular in the Arsenal team.
Will he start the north London derby?
Arsenal visits Tottenham in the north London derby on Saturday lunchtime, a game the Gunners are odds of 13/5 to win.
It remains unclear if Kolasinac will start the derby clash, as he has started just one of the Gunners last ten Premier League games. However, he did come on as a substitute last time out for Nacho Monreal.
The Spanish is a doubt for the clash with Spurs. If the former Malaga star fails to make the game, then Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will have to choose between Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play at left wing-back.
Sead Kolasinac still has a lot to prove at Arsenal. Maybe a strong performance in the north London derby will ensure that the defender sees more first-team in the future.
Should Sead Kolasinac be in the Arsenal starting line-up?