‘A different player’ – Mikel Arteta hails Ainsley Maitland-Niles after Watford win

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Maitland-Niles impressed in the middle of the park against Watford (Picture: Getty Images)

Maitland-Niles impressed in the middle of the park against Watford (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Ainsley Maitland-Niles after Arsenal’s victory over Watford, insisting the Gunners midfielder looks a ‘different player’ of late.

The 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at West Brom in a bid to play in his preferred midfield position.

But after returning to the Emirates in the summer, he had a loan move to Everton blocked on deadline day, after which he publicly hit out at the club for the decision on social media.

Arteta is pleased with the midfielder's commitment

Arteta described Maitland-Niles as a ‘huge talent’ (Picture: Getty Images)

However, the versatile Arsenal academy product, who can play at right-back or left-back, has earned more opportunities to play in the centre of the park this season, including in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Watford.

With Thomas Partey out injured with a groin problem, Maitland-Niles was chosen to start next to Albert Sambi Lokonga and he repaid his manager’s faith in his with a man of the match display.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Arteta laid out the vast improvements he has seen in the England international.

‘I see a different player in terms of his urgency, his commitment, his clarity in the play and purpose,’ said the Spaniard in his post-match press conference.

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‘We made a decision that we wanted him to stay [in the summer] because he was going to be useful.

‘He has a huge talent which is that he’s versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch.

‘Today we made use of him to do what he had to do in the game which was very important.’

‘When I see him in training sessions, his level of attention, everything you talk through his response is immediate,’ added the Spaniard.

‘He’s a really clever boy, really intelligent.

‘He’s come a long way.’


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