Arsene Wenger to trial new midfield pair against Chelsea
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.”