Arsenal: Ainsley Maitland-Niles earns a new contract and shirt no.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Ainsley Maitland-Niles signed a long-term contract extension with Premier League side Arsenal. The midfielder broke into the Arsenal team on a regular basis last season under Arsene Wenger as he made 28 appearances in a variety of positions. And now he has been rewarded for his efforts.

As announced on Tuesday, Maitland-Niles has agreed to a new long-term contract to keep him at the Emirates for the foreseeable future. In the announcement, Maitland-Niles revealed the interaction that he had with new manager Unai Emery and what it felt to be named in the press conference by Ivan Gazidis as one of the players that Emery gushed about the interview process.

“It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down [with a new contract]. I’m very pleased. We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me,” said Maitland-Niles in an interview with Arsenal Player.

While the 20-year old had always been considered a great talent and one of Arsenal’s rare starlets having joined the academy at just 9 years old, he had never quite proven it for the first team. Last season, he played more than 1500 minutes in the Europa League and Premier League, fielded at multiple positions including left-back, left wing-back and centre midfield, impressing in all three positions. It really was his proper breakthrough season.

“I think it’s brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence. It feels fantastic knowing that I’m going to be a part of the squad, and a big part of the squad,” he added.

Maitland-Niles is in the best position to enjoy a wonderful footballing career. He obviously has a natural talent and has shown a great work ethic, something that a lot of players lack today. He has a coach who seems willing to play him on a regular basis, to trust him in the big matches, and to allow him to make mistakes and to improve because of them. 

Arsenal has also announced Maitland-Niles will wear the number 15 shirt, last worn by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This seems one of the biggest signs of his importance to the squad.

He has captained England at youth level and was a crucial part of the side that won the Under-20 World Cup in June 2017. The step from youth football to senior football is one of the most unpredictable periods during the development of any player. It can take years for an individual to establish themselves as a true starter. Maitland-Niles will be hoping that he gets recognition and love from the fans and more importantly, an important spot on the team.

Asia At The World Cup

Japan Australia Iran South Korea Saudi Arabia

5 Asian teams get ready to represent their country at the World cup and have started their preparation by playing friendlies against various teams around the globe. Let’s take a look at what promise they hold and a few things they need to tweak before Russia 2018.

 

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia is the lowest ranked team in the tournament and they will have a mountain to climb at their first World Cup since 2006. They will be facing Suarez led Uruguay, Salah’s Egypt and the home team Russia backed by their home support and will have to pull off a huge surprise, if they are to make it to the next round of the competition. They qualified for the world cup after edging Australia on goal difference in the group- B of the AFC Asia qualifiers.

Japan:

The dismal performance at the 2014 World Cup still looms over the heads of the Japanese as they look to overturn their fortunes. For the Samurai Blue to fire, their three main superstars need to fire on all cylinders- Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki, and Kasuki Honda. After sacking their previous manager citing the lack of communication, the Japanese are desperate to well in a group of Colombia, Senegal, and Poland which seems to be relatively open.

 

South Korea:

The hopes of Korean success at the world cup rests on the shoulders of ace Tottenham striker, Son. But it would take something extraordinary to make it through a group consisting of Sweden, Mexico and the current world champions, Germany. Their FIFA ranking of 61 is higher than the combined rankings of their opponents. Low expectations from the team have certainly reduced the pressure from the team but will be a huge surprise if they extend their stay until July.

 

Australia:

Australia is yet another team that will be looking to make a statement at the world cup. Their 38-year-old warhorse, Tim Cahill might yet again be called upon for his services for the Socceroos, although he has played only 90 minutes of football during the entirety of last season and will only be called upon if the times are tough. He has scored during his last three world cups and seems to be their go-to man for the big occasions. They have a tough group but is passable as they have to play France, Denmark, and Peru.

 

Iran:

Iran was probably the most prolific team to qualify from Asia. The qualified with relative ease way back in June with a 2-0 win against Uzbekistan. They topped their group with great efficiency and are also the strongest Asian side at the World Cup. Their group, however, seems too hard for them to fight off with former World champions Spain and Portugal pitted against them and will need to pull off a miracle to go through.