Opinion: Kolasinac' injury is a chance for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to establish his talent
Co-Expert of Pain in the Arsenal, Andrew Dowdeswell writes on the point
Opportunity to sort things at back four
"Kolasinac may not be described by many as a ‘key cog’ in the Arsenal machine, but no player has played more minutes in this preseason than the surging left back. And with Nacho Monreal only just returning to the club this week after his World Cup ventures and having not featured at all in the preseason thus far, Kolasinac was the obvious starter at a position that did cause the Gunners trouble last season.
"But while losing a starting-calibre player to injury never seems nice, this extended period of absence could be an opportunity, not a hindrance. It is an opportunity for Kolasinac to assess his first season at the club, his first full preseason under Unai Emery, and recognise areas of his game that require improvement — and there are plenty of areas.
READ ALSO: OFFICIAL: Ramsey & Kolasinac fitness updates
"It is an opportunity for Unai Emery to try and find an internal solution to a position that many see as a problem. And most importantly, it is an opportunity for his replacement, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, to continue to establish his talent as he looks to forge a role for himself in the first-team squad.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles may change the position on the pitch
"Maitland-Niles may see himself as a midfielder, and many may agree with him, but, for now, at least, he may find more opportunities to play at fullback. Even if it is not his best position, — I wonder if it is his best position, but I am not sure that Maitland-Niles or Emery would agree with me — it is still a chance to start. And they do not come around all that often.
"It was Maitland-Niles who was introduced for Kolasinac against Chelsea. It was Maitland-Niles who played in the Kolasinac and Monreal’s absence last season. For as long as Monreal is not fit, it will be Maitland-Niles once more. But could he this time be able to hang onto his starting role?
"There are definitive flaws with both Monreal and Kolasinac. The former is ageing, quickly, his legs are slowing, he struggles in one-on-one situations and he is overly reliant on his positioning and reading of the game; the latter has illustrated his lack of defensive understanding, his poor balance and agility, struggling against diminutive, twisty-turny wingers. With a manager who has no loyalties to any of them, Maitland-Niles has the chance to force Emery’s hand."