Fresh off a frustrating season opening loss, Arsenal confirmed today that promising young midfielder/emergency left back Ainsley Maitland-Niles suffered a minor fracture in his leg, sidelining him for the next 6-8 weeks.
Maitland-Niles, who was deputizing for injured left backs Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, came off after tangling up with Manchester City right back Kyle Walker. After trying to play through the pain, the young Gunner was unable to continue and looked to be in noticeable pain before coming off for recent transfer Stephan Lichtsteiner.
This news is terrible for several reasons. First and foremost, this sidelines a talented young player who has been making a case for increased minutes with his high-paced play and very high ceiling. AMN ended last year on a high note and looked solid throughout the preseason. With this setback, he will face another obstacle toward seeing meaningful first team minutes.
Secondly, Arsenal’s already-thin left back position just hit a critical mass. With Kolasinac already out until October and Monreal coming back from a minor injury, it leaves Arsenal with Lichtsteiner, typically a right back, as the sole defender for that position. If Arsenal suffers any more left back injuries, it would have to do some major shuffling to accommodate the void left behind.
Lastly, this just compounds the rough start to Arsenal’s season. Facing the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and West Ham in three consecutive weeks does not allow for much room for error. After losing to the reigning champions last weekend, many are waiting to see if they can bounce back against a Chelsea team that looked convincing in their opening season 3-0 win against Huddersfield. If Emery’s squad is to adapt, they need the players to be healthy. This setback only hurts their chances of development and adaption to a new playing style.