No matter how badly a team beats Arsenal, Arsene Wenger always has “positives” to take away from the game.

After a painful 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday, his joy came from the impressive performance of the fringe players he fielded against United’s gladiators.

Wenger had the luxury of resting big players ahead of their must-win Europa League second leg semi-final match away to Atletico Madrid.

Does he now feel his successor would start believing there’s a lot of depth in this Arsenal squad?

“Look, my successor certainly will have watched this game today. Hopefully, he will come to positive conclusions for the players.

“For them, it’s whether they can be part of the future of Arsenal Football Club. I think some of them have shown today that they can be, 100 per cent. I would say, personally, 100 per cent,” he said.

Arsenal’s 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ performance in central midfield stood out.

Wenger said: “Ainsley Maitland-Niles is slowly becoming the player I think he can be in defensive midfield. He can create as well.”

On handing Dinos Mavropanos his debut, he said “Mavropanos, in training he has shown top quality but then you always have a question mark as long as you don’t see that under pressure in a big game.

“Until that, you don’t know. The big players do better in the competition than in training. They make a career, the others… we have many players at our level who do less well in competition than in training. That was the question mark and I think he did well. He surprised everybody by his quality today.”


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