Mikel Arteta is a lot happier with Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ attitude in the last few weeks, which is why the midfielder is getting another chance with the team.
Mikel Arteta is seemingly rebuilding his relationship with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, despite the 22-year-old looking like an outcast before the coronavirus shutdown.
Following Hector Bellerin’s return from injury, Maitland-Niles dropped out of the Arsenal team completely. In the nine games directly before the break, he played three minutes of football. However, things are finally starting to turn around now.
When asked about Maitland-Niles’ attitude, Arteta suggested on Thursday that it’s improving.
“Much better,” he responded. “We discussed that during the lockdown and he’s changed a lot of things, a lot of positive things.
“He’s a really honest kid as well, we know him from the academy and the way he has developed here. He has all the attributes and qualities to become a really important player, it’s up to him.”
Apparently as a direct result of that shift in attitude, Maitland-Niles is getting chances again. He featured heavily in both friendlies against Charlton and Brentford, before making a 23-minute substitute appearance against Manchester City.
With Granit Xhaka out for the next couple of weeks, there’s every chance Maitland-Niles gets some starts in midfield, with the trip to Brighton on Saturday his first opportunity. As Arteta says, at that point it’s up to him to prove he deserves to stay there.