Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles looking to put summer drama behind him

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles is looking forward rather than back after starring in Arsenal’s win over Watford following a summer which saw him angle for a move away from the Emirates Stadium.

The England international had been linked with a loan deal to Everton in the final days of the transfer window.

A move to Goodison Park never materialised despite Maitland-Niles posting on social media about his wish to leave the club.

(Ainsley Maitland-Niles/Instagram)
(Ainsley Maitland-Niles/Instagram)

“All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play,” he wrote on Instagram, accompanied with three crying emojis.

Having spent the second half of last season on loan at West Brom, Maitland-Niles’ Arsenal future was in doubt even though he had earned a Three Lions debut just months before.

He came into the side for the 1-0 win over Watford, with Emile Smith Rowe scoring the only goal of a game which saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss a penalty for the Gunners and Juraj Kuca sent off late on for the visitors.

Asked about his happiness compared to the summer, Maitland-Niles replied: “That’s all in the past now.

“I am just thinking about the future and what’s ahead of me. It was great to be out there today, getting my minutes, and hopefully there is more to come.”

Sunday’s narrow victory meant Arsenal went into the international break fifth in the Premier League, having been bottom of the division in September.

Mikel Arteta’s side are unbeaten in 10 games across all competitions but, while Maitland-Niles is happy with the turnaround, he warned his team-mates about letting their new-found standards drop off.

“We have got to be realistic about it and we don’t want to slip back into our old ways,” he said.

Emile Smith Rowe celebrates victory with Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Emile Smith Rowe celebrates victory with Ainsley Maitland-Niles (John Walton/PA)

“So we are pretty head-focused on not trying to lose games and win more games at the same time – hence the good run of unbeaten games.

“We just need to grow in confidence and keep it as a basic standard for us to compete in every game.”

Watford have lost three of their four games under Claudio Ranieri.

However, former England defender Danny Rose believes the Hornets are moving in the right direction.

Danny Rose believes there are positive signs at Watford
Danny Rose believes there are positive signs at Watford (John Walton/PA)

“We kept going right until the end, even with 10 men,” he said.

“A point may have been fair. But that’s where we’re at now, and I hope we can capitalise on such a good defensive display.

“It is very disappointing when you defend so well and concede a goal like we did, but there’s not much we can do now except dust ourselves off.

“We have a foundation, a platform to build on defensively and if we keep playing like that we’ll pick up the points along the way.”

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