We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has looked “lost” in the West Brom midfield since arriving on loan from Arsenal, according to Kevin Phillips.
Although Maitland-Niles, 23, has spent the bulk of his senior game-time playing out wide with the Gunners, he’s moved to The Hawthorns to take up a role in the centre of Sam Allardyce’s midfield.
It’s been a mixed bag of performances by the young England international since his loan switch to West Brom on February 1. He did barely anything of note on his debut in the defeat to Tottenham and squandered a massive chance to assist a goal versus Manchester United.
He did put in an improved performance away at Burnley on Saturday as the Baggies drew 0-0 at Turf Moor but overall, Phillips is yet to be impressed by the new arrival.
“I have to say, he hasn’t set it alight,” Phillips told West Brom News when asked about Maitland-Niles.
“It’s a big ask for the player to come from Arsenal, having not played a lot, straight into a relegation battle, playing in a position he hasn’t played in an awful lot this season. I just think he’s looked a little bit lost at times if I’m being honest.
“I know he’s a good player. I’ve only really seen him play at right full-back when he’s bombing up and down the pitch but when you’re in the middle of the park, playing in that midfield area, it’s a totally different game.
“You have to adjust your style and I think he’s looked lost.
“There’s definitely more to come but a player with his experience should be coming in and hitting the ground running. It just shows you how difficult it is.”
Maitland-Niles arrived at West Brom at a tough time as he was thrown straight into the starting line-up for tough matches against Tottenham and Man United.
Albion managed to earn a point off Man United at The Hawthorns but they could have taken all three if Maitland-Niles didn’t completely hash what seemed to be an easy pass to play Mbaye Diagne in on goal.
Had the Arsenal loanee nailed that pass, West Brom could be two points better off in the Premier League while the 23-year-old also wasn’t very impressive when Bruno Fernandes scored the Red Devils’ goal.
Phillips makes some good points about Maitland-Niles but it is early days and there was some improvement on Saturday at Burnley.
Let’s hope he continues on that upward trajectory.
In other West Brom news, Albion have frozen out this player but it’s not for sporting reasons.