Mikel Arteta tells Ainsley Maitland-Niles how to get back in the Arsenal team

Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles
The right-back has not played in the Premier League since mid-January (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has told defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles that he needs to ‘put his head down and work hard’ if he wants to get back in the Arsenal side.

The 22-year-old was benched for the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup as Arteta’s team secured their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Goals from Sokratis and Eddie Nketiah wrapped up the victory, with the 37-year-old coach choosing to field the Greek international out of position at full-back instead of Maitland-Niles.

The 22-year-old hasn’t featured in the Premier League since Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United on January 18.

After the game on Monday night, Arteta said: ‘Ainsley needs to put his head down and work hard and show me every day in training that he wants it more than anyone else, he wants to play for this club and fight for his place.’

The England Under-21 international initially appeared to have Arteta’s trust when he first took over at the Emirates, starting in each of the Spaniard’s first five league games in charge.

But Maitland-Niles’ last appearance in an Arsenal shirt came as a substitute in the 1-0 away victory at Olympiacos in the Europa League on February 20.

Arteta was also full of praise for debutant defender Pablo Mari, who started his first game for the Gunners since joining on-loan from Brazilian side Flamengo in January.

After the FA Cup victory, he said: ‘He [Mari] was very good, he was very solid, very vocal, and we didn’t see the lack of rhythm that he has because he hasn’t played in two-and-a-half months I think but in general, overall, really happy.’

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