EPL

Arsenal duo Maitland-Niles and Willock handed loan switches

By Sports Desk February 01, 2021

England international Ainsley Maitland-Niles has joined West Brom on loan from Arsenal until the end of the season, with Joe Willock making a similar switch to Newcastle United.

Maitland-Niles was part of the Gunners side that lifted the FA Cup and Community Shield last year, with his performances at wing-back earning a call-up to Gareth Southgate's England squad.

The 23-year-old Maitland-Niles made five appearances for the Three Lions across this season's three international breaks to date, although he has only managed the same number of Premier League starts in 2020-21.

Maitland-Niles, who has played 121 times for Arsenal and became the second youngest player in the club's history after Jack Wilshere when he turned out against Galatasaray in the Champions League aged 17 years and 102 days, is now poised for a relegation fight under Sam Allardyce at second-bottom West Brom.

"Ainsley is a very talented player and we are proud of his hard work and development with us," said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who also sanctioned the departure of Shkodran Mustafi to Schalke on a permanent deal amid a flurry of late deadline day activity at Emirates Stadium.

"This decision to go on loan to West Bromwich Albion for the rest of this season is to support Ainsley and his growth further.

"He will be working at a very good club in the Premier League and we all wish him the best of luck during his time at the Hawthorns."

Willock, whose 17 outings in all competitions this season are just four fewer than Maitland-Niles, will now also be concerned with matters at the other end of the Premier League table.

The 21-year-old midfielder bolsters a Newcastle squad who occupy 15th position, eighth points clear of the drop zone after a morale-boosting 2-0 win at Everton.

"Joe is a young player with great ability who is progressing very well and we are happy with his continued development," Arteta said of the England Under-21 international.

"At this moment in his career, Joe needs to be playing regularly. At Newcastle United, he is going to a very good club with a top quality manager and staff."

Related items

  • PSG must find best tactical balance without injured Neymar – Pochettino PSG must find best tactical balance without injured Neymar – Pochettino

    Mauricio Pochettino challenged Paris Saint-Germain to adapt and find the best tactical balance in the absence of the injured Neymar.

    The Brazil forward has been ruled out for six to eight weeks after sustaining ankle ligament damage against Saint-Etienne last weekend.

    Neymar was carried off during the final stages of Sunday's 3-1 win in Ligue 1, and will not play again in 2021.

    Speaking ahead of PSG's home match against Nice on Wednesday, Pochettino expressed his sympathy for Neymar, who has registered three goals and three assists in 10 league appearances this season.

    Nevertheless, the head coach insists his side must demonstrate their ability to cope during his spell on the sidelines.

    "I'm sad for him because he's someone who loves to play football above all else," Pochettino said.

    "We are not trying to replace Neymar, but to find solutions to have the best tactical balance.

    "We feel that we are facing a challenge that makes us grow as a team and as a staff. 

    "These are problems that arise and to which solutions must be found.

    "I think the principle of the team, of the game is going to be there. 

    "We will continue to develop what we want since the beginning of the year beyond the players who are there on the field."

  • Ballon d'Or: Klopp bemused as his former Dortmund hitman Lewandowski misses out Ballon d'Or: Klopp bemused as his former Dortmund hitman Lewandowski misses out

    Jurgen Klopp has questioned what more Robert Lewandowski could have done to win the Ballon d'Or after the Bayern Munich striker missed out on the award.

    Lionel Messi scooped the accolade for a seventh time on Monday, but many felt this would be Lewandowski's time to take the glory.

    Klopp benefited from the brilliance of Lewandowski when both men were at Borussia Dortmund, with the Poland international scoring 103 goals before switching to Bayern.

    At club level, Lewandowski has scored 53 goals already in 2021, with six assists taking him to 59 goal involvements, the most in Europe's top five leagues.

    Messi sits fifth on that list (32 goals, 12 assists) but helped Argentina to win the Copa America, thereby winning one of the few trophies that had eluded him.

    That likely tipped the vote his way, with Messi's form since leaving Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in August having so far been sketchy by his mercurial standards.

    Asked initially whether he was surprised there were six players who ranked higher than Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, Klopp said: "I was surprised to be honest, but it's not in my hands. If you think he should be higher up, then you'll have to convince your colleagues."

    Then Klopp turned his focus to Lewandowski, a player he once described as the best he has ever coached. Lewandowski was second to Messi for the coveted Ballon d'Or, which is voted for by journalists from across the world.

    The 33-year-old scored 41 Bundesliga goals last season, breaking a record for the most in the division that was previously held by Gerd Muller.

    "I think that you always can give it to Lionel Messi for the career he has and the footballer he is, all these kinds of things, but if you don't give it to Robert Lewandowski this time then it's quite tricky to get it at all," said the Liverpool boss.

    "And yes, Mo definitely should have been high up."

    Lewandowski would also have been a frontrunner in 2020, only for organisers France Football to cancel the awards due to the impact of the COVID-19 enforced break in the football year.

    He managed 57 goals involvements (45 goals, 12 assists) in 2020, which was 10 more than Cristiano Ronaldo (41 goals, 6 assists), who had the second-most in the elite leagues, and 12 ahead of Messi (26 goals, 19 assists).

  • Lukaku set for more minutes as Chelsea aim to rediscover scoring touch Lukaku set for more minutes as Chelsea aim to rediscover scoring touch

    Romelu Lukaku is ready to play more of a role for Chelsea in their Premier League clash with Watford, according to Thomas Tuchel.

    Lukaku played the final eight minutes plus stoppage time in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday, having missed the previous four league games with an ankle injury.

    The Blues are just a point clear of defending champions Manchester City at the top of the table and could be leapfrogged by Pep Guardiola's men and Liverpool on Wednesday should they fail to claim all three points at Vicarage Road.

    But they look set to be boosted by increased involvement from Lukaku after he came through his cameo in the United game without incident.

    Speaking at his pre-match media conference, Tuchel said: "Romelu is pretty easy. He came on and continues to train. There's no reaction from his ankle. He is ready to progress in minutes and this is where he is."

    N'Golo Kante (knee), Ben Chilwell (knee) and Mateo Kovacic (thigh) are sidelined for Chelsea, who face last-minute calls on Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner after they all picked up knocks, though the trio did train on Tuesday.

    Chelsea were held by United despite having 24 shots to the Red Devils' three, the Blues scoring only once despite having an expected goals (xG) tally of 2.5, based on the chances they created. United had an xG of just 0.7.

    Tuchel will hope Lukaku can help Chelsea be more clinical but, asked if his forwards need to do more, he replied: "They try hard. Their contribution to our style of game, contribution to the high pressing is immense, we can see this in the data after the matches.

    "So we should maybe take into account that when they arrive with the chances maybe they don't arrive fully relaxed, sometimes they breathe hard when they arrive and maybe that costs us some precision.

    "But we have scored many goals before. This game I agree, we had a similar game in terms of chances and of course result against Burnley at home.

    "It's a good sign that we are not happy with when we draw against Man United when we have the feeling that we should have deserved more. 

    "We trust them, they have the quality to score for us. It's on us to bring them into positions from where it's possible for them to score and to do this as often as possible."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.