It’s often hard to measure the success or quality of a footballer at the age of 21, regardless of what some fans may have you believe. They’re often going to be developing and progressing for a few more years yet, and when they reach the age of around 25, you can probably get a good idea of how their career is going to turn out. So then, to all of the Arsenal fans who felt the need to criticise Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ performance against Huddersfield at the weekend, we’d be curious to know what it is you do on a day to day basis.
Arsenal have beaten Burnley by 3-1 in the 18th round of the 2018/19 Premier League season, courtesy of goals from Pierre-Emerick Auubameyang (14′, 48′), and Alex Iwobi (90′). The solitary strike for the visitors was the work of Ashley Barnes (63′). The Gunners are still in fifth place, but now they’ve equaled Chelsea’s point tally as the Blues suffered defeat at home to Leicester City.
But the result aside for a moment, there were some interesting things to take from this game. Let’s take a look.
The media storm surrounding Raheem Sterling in the last few days is something we’ve seen time and time again in the past, and unfortunately, we’ll continue to see it. The English forward has had to deal with this kind of thing his entire life, and the fact that it’s carrying over into 2018 – and likely 2019 – is disgusting. Alas, he isn’t the only man in the game who has had to deal with something like this, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles making a surprising revelation regarding the matter.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed that the Gunners Spanish defender Nacho Monreal will not feature in the next two weeks for the north London team. The Spaniard is reportedly suffering from a hamstring injury and he will not return to training until next month. The news is a blow ahead of a potentially tricky trip to Bournemouth for Emery’s team.
Monreal hard to replace
For me, Nacho Monreal is one of the most unsung players of recent seasons. The Spaniard has produced impressive consistency for the Gunners in recent seasons, not matter whether playing as a full-back or a makeshift centre-back.
Arsenal currently have seven players on their injured list, and they’ve provided an update on their recovery progress via the official website. The season has entered it’s part when the schedule is jam-packed, and having as many players available as possible will be of vital importance for manager Unai Emery.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan injured his right ankle in Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League opener last Thursday. Having missed the Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday, he is currently being assessed ahead of the Carabao Cup game against Championship side Brentford on Wednesday.
According to the BBC, Arsenal’s Bosnia and Herzegovina full-back Sead Kolasinac will miss the first eight-ten weeks of the Premier League season through injury. The former Schalke star sustained the knee injury in the Gunners International Champions Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday.
The estimated timescale would see the Bosnian missed eight top-flight matches, two Europa League games and the third round of the League Cup. The news is a blow to the player and Gunners boss Unai Emery, who now has a dilemma on the left-hand side of his defence.
While many Arsenal fans are currently getting caught up in the excitement of the summer transfer window, and rightly so, there are still some issues that need to be resolved closer to home. The likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both still trying to sort out their contract ordeals at the Emirates, and it’s clear to see that Unai Emery has a specific vision regarding what kind of players he’s interested in keeping on the books at the club as he prepares for his first season in charge.
According to the Telegraph, Stan Kroenke has decided to make extra £20million available for transfers this summer.
It had been initially announced that the club’s transfer kitty would amount to £50million plus any income generated by player sales, but now that sum has gone up to £70million. A small increase, but a welcome one, nevertheless.
Money aside, the first signing of the Unai Emery era might come as a free transfer. The contract of Juventus full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner is about to expire and at Arsenal they believe the presence of the Switzerland captain would bring some much needed leadership qualities to the back line, as Laurent Koscielny remains unavailable at least until November. The team captain suffered knee ligament damage in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
Arsene Wenger has provided updates regarding the availability of several players for the the game at the Emirates against Southampton on Sunday.
It seems Henrikh Mkhitaryan might be out for a long time. The Armenian was subbed off after an hour of the Europe League game against CSKA Moscow on Thursday, and the manager says there might be damage to his medial knee ligament. Therefore, it’s impossible to say at this point how long his absence will last, but more will be revealed soon. Let’s hope the fear is proven needless.
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.