Three tackles, 93% pass accuracy: Arsenal debutant Maitland-Niles shows promise in Galatasaray victory

Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his debut for Arsenal against Galatasaray.

The 17-year-old winger took to the field at half-time, replacing Aaron Ramsey to make his professional debut.

One of three Arsenal academy products to take to the field as substitutes against Galatasaray, Maitland-Niles suffered as the Gunners turned off their attacking threat in the second half, although he showed composure and a finesse to his play not usually seen by one so young. The winger, who has been with the club since the age of nine, became the Gunners second youngster player to ever appear in the Champions League - behind Jack Wilshere - and, having been included in Arsene Wenger’s squad for the trip to Stoke last weekend, he will be looking to make his Premier League debut this season.

And, judging by Tuesday evening’s performance, Maitland-Niles may just have the chance of staking a claim for a role in the side.

  Successful TacklesInterceptionsDuels WonTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTouches
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 3 1 3 29 93.1% 37

Coming on as a winger in a side who were already three goals up, Maitland-Niles was never allowed the chance to shine as an attacking force as Wenger set his team out to kill the game. However, he put in a strong performance as a defensive prospect, and worked well within the Arsenal ideals of keeping possession and tight passing. He completed a respectable 93.1% of an attempted 29 passes, and touched the ball a solid 37 times.

Despite failing to register a single shot, win a dribble, or play a key pass during the game, he did play eight successful passes forward during his 45 minute spell, but it was his strong work ethic that stood out.

At his young age, many might suspect Maitland-Niles to have wandered about looking to influence the game in the attacking third, but he took the game into his own hands, and put in a strong defensive performance. He competed three tackles - a game high despite his short spell on the pitch - and completed one interception.

It is not the performance that was expected of him, but the promise shown by Maitland-Niles suggested he has the work ethic and desire to succeed that could make him a star in the future. Rather than leaving the defensive parts of the game to his teammates, the youngster wanted to impress, and his mentality to work for the side is something lacking amongst the Arsenal ranks at the moment. Whilst he may not make an influence on the first-team for a while yet, he is the perfect role model for a number of the established stars to look at and realise they need to improve if the Gunners want another top four finish.

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