Arsenal manager Unai Emery suddenly has a selection dilemma at right-back. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been a regular starter in the right-back role this season but this could be about to change.
Maitland-Niles might face an uphill battle as he tries to get his place back in the starting line-up. The versatile player might even have to look at another position if he wants more games. Here are three reasons why.
Maitland-Niles was sent off against Aston Villa for two yellow card offences last Sunday. He also looked like he picked up an injury while sliding in for the challenge which earned him a second booking.
It seems that the 22-year-old is injury-free and his suspension has now been served. But Emery might have lost faith with Maitland-Niles. Even though the second yellow card was contentious, he still made a rash decision sliding in like that when he was already booked. He might have lost Emery’s trust.
When Maitland-Niles went off against Villa, Calum Chambers was brought on to play at right-back. The 24-year-old immediately made an impact, scoring the second equaliser as Arsenal battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to win 3-2.
Chambers can play at right-back, centre-back or as a holding midfielder. The versatile defender provided three assists against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night to show why he could be Arsenal’s new right-back – possibly at the expense of Maitland-Niles.
The Nottingham Forest clash also marked the return of Hector Bellerin. After months out with a knee injury, the Spanish defender returned and made an instant impact. He picked up an assist moments after coming onto the pitch.
Bellerin set up Joe Willock to give Arsenal a three-goal lead on their way to a 5-0 victory. Now that Bellerin is back, he’ll also be eyeing that starting right-back spot. This is bad news for Maitland-Niles’ hopes of making it his own.