With Granit Xhaka out due to suspension, Santi Cazorla injured and now also Aaron Ramsey, while Mohammed Elneny is still away at the AFCON Cup, Arsenal have all of a sudden become dangerously thin in midfield. Arsene Wenger, however, could trial a new midfield pair against Chelsea, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Due to Arsenal’s midfield problem, Arsene Wenger has praised the potential of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play the role. Francis Coquelin is the only available central midfielder available to Wenger, thus leaving him with two players who primarily play on the flanks.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely start in the midfield role, reprising the position he played in on Tuesday night following Ramsey’s injury, while Maitland-Niles could possibly start alongside him, although he usually plays as a winger or fullback.
“Ainsley Maitland-Niles has played a lot on the flanks but I’ve seen qualities in him that tell me he can be useful in the middle and he can also be a defensive specialist. He’s very good in one against ones and quick in his recoveries, very good in duels, and not scared to play either.”
“I’m pleased for him because he’s a boy who has had to be patient, who has a good mentality. I like him very much and I think his game is very positive.”
As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wenger believes he has the suitable experience to play centrally.
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed me in the middle too. He’s a player who can be effective on the flanks and when he’s in a more central role.”
“When you are young, you want to come in the team and the push is always a bit more on the flank. Why? Because centrally there is more experience demanded, more planning, more tactical planning, and on the flanks you can be a bit more instinctive.”
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