Tag Archives: hale end

Maitland-Niles: Cold-Blooded and Ready

Ice in your veins.

A classic sign that a player has the temperament needed to not only eke out their full potential on the pitch – but also ensure they do the same on the training pitch – with sheer, bloody-minded dedication.

It requires a thought process that is blinkered, focused on a single narrative.

To be the best you can be. All the best players have it and it is never clearer than in moments of pressure.

It is a necessary component on the way to reaching the top. Just watch when a player is plying his or her trade in a high-stakes match. A Cup Final, a derby, a knockout game. Where every second counts.

Firstly, the player with icicles in their bloodstream will desire the ball at every conceivable opportunity. They will be confident that they can sway the match and can’t sit by and wait for the game to come to them. They feel they must act NOW.

And when the opportunity arises? To change the game in an instant?

In the immortal words of a Mr B. Rabbit;

“Will you capture it? Or just let it slip?”

A penalty. A free-kick. A chance in the box. A moment that needs the coolest of heads.

Like a penalty in a penalty shootout perhaps?

Or a performance in a Cup Final against a derby opponent?

Just watch Ainsley Maitland-Niles in both the Community Shield shootout and his entire first half against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.

Maitland-Niles mentality

His penalty was as nonchalant as they come. A trot forward, a swish of his boot and he sidefoots it past a keeper who has been nigh-on unbeatable at times last season.

His display against Chelsea was a surprise. Not because we didn’t think he had it in him, but we didn’t foresee AMN starting. Especially in midfield. But it was his constant running that stretched the Blues, put them on the backfoot. They couldn’t contain him and so they became defensive. It was predominantly AMN that changed the game for Arsenal against Chelsea – and Aubameyang applied the finish.

He couldn’t bear to let it pass him by – so he took the game by the scruff of the neck and demanded it follow instruction.

And not once did he lose his cool. All of the above was done with the same quiet, focused aura that he always maintains.

His displays have been rewarded with his first ever England senior call-up and it is hard to disagree that he doesn’t deserve it. He has been much more than a standby full-back – but it has been vitally important to his growth that he has played in that position.

He has filled in on both the right and left of defence, all the while knowing that his most effective – and favoured – position is in the centre of the park. Yet he knuckled down, learned the skills for that role and it has improved him. His timing seems to be excellent, his runs never leaving the team short and always arriving when the attack needs him.

Maitland-Niles, if he continues to progress and put in displays of this ilk, can go on to cement a first-team place in his favoured role. It all depends on Arteta’s formation, but with three in the centre, he can be the glue that binds both Xhaka and Ceballos.

AMN is on the rise and is hot property – but the Hale End boy is ice-cold.

Time for Reiss to shine

From one point of view, today’s young footballers have it all.

They bathe in the adulation of millions. They earn an exorbitant amount of money and they get to do something that they love as their employment – something about 99% of the population can only dream of.

It isn’t all TikTok dances, new kicks and payrises though.

At such a young age they are faced with huge decisions on a regular basis. Do I speak to the boss about my playing time? Do I instruct my agent to start looking elsewhere? Is this sponsorship deal right for me? That is just a smidgin of what they face. Try and hark back to when you were 21. What consumed you back then? For me, I had a full-time job and the proceeds of which, went directly to weekends, films, games and cigarettes. We were lucky that the majority of decisions of the above magnitude didn’t surface on our radar.

One of the reasons these dilemmas and decisions are so significant is the fallout should they go wrong.

We have seen on so many occasions when a youngster is tempted by greener grass elsewhere or by lucrative promises made. They fall off the precipice of greatness and into the sea of ignominy, never quite being able to scale those giddy heights again. The talent is still there, but the chance has gone.

They have to make every opportunity count. Injuries, coaches, clubs, new countries – all are huge factors regarding why a youth starlet must seize everything that comes their way.

Time is of the essence – and it seems as if one of our own is at a crossroads.

Reiss Nelson’s talent doesn’t need questioning. The 20 year old has impressed all of his coaches during his short career. Renowned tactician Julian Nagelsmann of Hoffenheim said Nelson has the ability to reach elite levels, should he maintain his consistency and mentality.

And that is the crucial part – consistency.

Reiss hasn’t had the chance to build any consistency, as his time on the pitch has been anything but that. Nelson showed that when played regularly – when at Hoffenheim – he can deliver the goods (7 goals for the German side) – but does Nelson wait it out? Or does he move on as the timer on his career marches ever forward?

At the time of writing, Nelson was being linked with a loan move to Crystal Palace, to keep him primed. Every indicator shows he should have joined the Eagles for the season. At the current time, both Willian and Pepe are ahead of Nelson in the pecking order. Should both be rested then Nelson will get his minutes – but the likelihood of both being benched is low. At Palace, he would finally get the Premiership platform and the opportunity to prove what he can do when he gets the minutes.

Emile Smith-Rowe is another who is being linked with a loan move, and both should ponder it. If they are played, then they will return to Arsenal in a far stronger position, which will bolster their claims for the first team.   Nelson made 17 appearances last season and that was before Willian showed up. This season heralds a tougher ask to squeeze minutes in.

Reiss Nelson is most definitely good enough for us – but he needs to play right now. A loan would have meant we retain the player’s services and Nelson can grow. Nelson

It was a win-win situation.

What do you think? Do you think he’l get the minutes he needs this season?