According to the Express & Star’s Joseph Masi, new West Brom loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in line to make an instant impact at the Premier League strugglers when they head to Spurs this lunchtime.
The Baggies are sitting precariously in 19th position, some 11 points adrift of safety and now will have to face a side who will be looking for a reaction after a run of three straight league defeats.
And starting the versatile 23-year-old midfielder is a good way to go about business as he’s going to provide the much-needed quality that’s currently lacking from their engine room.
On the Chalkboard
Indeed, both Romaine Sawyers (6.13) and Jake Livermore (6.19), who have started the most games of any central midfield options, currently rank as Albion’s two worst players as per WhoScored ratings.
Allardyce has also revealed that he was only able to secure the coveted three-time England international because he’ll be playing in his favoured central position, which means there’s a high chance that one of Sawyers or Livermore isn’t going to start in north London.
The £16.2m-rated maestro will offer an industrious presence in the heart of the pitch and one that is capable of influencing the game at either end of the pitch.
Throughout his career, as per WhoScored statistics, the Hale End youth product has averaged 2.5 tackles per 90 at a success rate just shy of 70%, proving his defensive capability and off-the-ball work rate whilst he has also averaged 1.5 dribbles and one key pass per 90, meaning he isn’t shy of breaking into the final third to deliver some creativity too.
By comparison, only Conor Gallagher and Grady Diangana have pulled off more successful tackles per 90 for Albion with Maitland-Niles tying the enigmatic Matheus Pereira for dribbles too, also via WhoScored.
Interestingly, the Englishman has had success against Spurs before – even though Arsenal came from behind to draw 2-2 with their rivals last season, Maitland-Niles haunted Heung-min Son all afternoon at right-back.
And in doing so, managed to stop him from having any major influence on the game. Per SofaScore, he made a match-high three interceptions, won 75% of his ground duels and made two tackles.
Son was hooked after 79 minutes by Mauricio Pochettino. He won only 40% of his ground duels and failed to provide an accurate cross past Maitland-Niles, so despite it being all-square, the new Albion loanee enjoyed a very good game.
If Big Sam needs to change it up at all, then his versatility could prove crucial too as he’s played in five different roles this season alone.
Maitland-Niles, who is thought to only be on around £35k-per-week at the Emirates, was dubbed a “Rolls-Royce of a player at times” by Martin Keown just two months ago when Arsenal defeated Rapid Wien 4-1 (BT Sport via football.london).
You can’t not start these sorts of players, his addition could well be a game-changer of a signing.
AND in other news, 20 y/o “real talent” could be Albion’s perfect Pereira heir…