Ainsley Maitland-Niles and the Best of Arsenal’s Youth

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe are four highly-rated youngsters who came through the Arsenal academy in recent years. They’re all viable contenders to be the next player to break into the first team since Alex Iwobi.

Arsenal have always been known to have a manager who believes in giving youth a chance. But has this changed with Unai Emery now in charge and who will come out on top?

Arsenal Starlets Nearing First-Team Place

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Most Arsenal fans would agree that Ainsley Maitland-Niles is Arsenal’s most exciting young prospect. His ability is way past his age. Ainsley Maitland Niles has the calmness and awareness of a 30-year-old but the athleticism of a 20-year-old.

What makes Ainsley Maitland Niles stand out above all else Is his versatility. He can play left back and right back as well as a pivot in the midfield. His coolness on the ball allows him to slot into every role seamlessly. Established first team players like Bellerin and Xhaka to this day panic on the ball while Ainsley Maitland Niles is calm and collected when making that quick pass to start the attack.

Ainsley Maitland Niles appeared 15 times in the Premier League and nine times in Europe for The Gunners last season. Arsène Wenger showed faith in the youngster and it looks like Unai Emery will be doing the same. Unai decided not to loan out Ainsley Maitland-Niles this season indicating that he will be featuring in his plans.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles suffered a leg fracture just 35 minutes into the new season. His return looks to be scheduled for mid to late October.

Strengths: Calmness, Technique, Work Rate.

Weaknesses: Over Confidence at times, Crossing.

Reiss Nelson

Reiss Nelson is probably the most talked about Arsenal prospect in recent times, being regarded as a star-in-the-making. He has been magnificent for the Arsenal reserve team but has yet to elevate his abilities to the senior game.

Reiss Nelson’s best abilities come from the wing. He is a serious threat going forward with his pace and dribbling abilities. He is also not shy to put in a tackle, working hard for his team to recover the ball. In addition, Reiss Nelson has a serious goal scoring record as fans will be looking forward to seeing him translate that to the senior team.

Reiss Nelson has made 16 appearances for Arsenal first team. The 18-year-old was instrumental in guiding Arsenal to the Premier League 2 title last season. Reiss Nelson was also named player of the year highlighting his dominance in youth football. Unai Emery will be keenly watching him at Hoffenheim where he is currently on loan.

Strengths: Pace, Dribbling.

Weaknesses: Weak Physique, One Dimensional in the attack at times, Finishing.

Eddie Nketiah

Eddie Nketiah has joined Arsenal following his release from local rivals Chelsea in 2015 and has been prolific ever since. He’s the youngster Arsenal fans will recognize the most as he managed to score both goals in the win over Norwich in the EFL Cup.

Eddie Nketiah loves to score goals and that’s what he’s good at. He has scored 36 goals in 47 appearances for Arsenal reserves side earning him 10 appearances for the senior side last season. Eddie Nketiah’s main ability comes in the form finishing and making those darting runs inside the box to score. A fox in the box you could say.

However, none of his appearances has been longer than 35 minutes as Eddie Nketiah has struggled to make an impact. He will need to hit the gym and build up his physique before Emery considers him a threat to Lacazette or Aubameyang.

Strengths: Runs inside the box, Finishing, Positioning.

Weaknesses: Lack of Physique, Inexperience.

Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe is the youngest member of Arsenal’s pre-season squad but has been excelling for the club this summer. He has definitely caught the managers eye with his wonderful goal against Atletico Madrid along with an impressive assist against Paris Saint-Germain.

Emile Smith Rowe’s best abilities come in the form of passing and dribbling. He plays in the same style and shape of players like Coutinho and Iniesta. He’s always thinking of moving forward and playing that killer pass along with having an eye for goal. He was key in the club’s run to the FA Youth Cup Final.

He’s quickly becoming a fan favourite, being regarded as one of the most promising talents at Arsenal. However, the 18-year-old still has plenty of time to develop and get ready for his shot at a breakthrough season.

Strengths: Finesse, Dribbling, Passing.

Weaknesses: Lack of Physique, Inexperience, Defensively.


All of these promising players have signed long-term contracts with the club in the past year. There’s no doubt all of them are quality players who deserve a shot at the first team.

However, Ainsley Maitland-Niles sticks out the most as his versatility and already having the most first team appearances under his belt will be too much for Unai Emery to ignore. Also, Arsenals main woes come in the midfield and defence where there’s room to break through the most.

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