Former Southampton captain Dean Hammond has waxed lyrical about Saints player Ainsley Maitland-Niles for his solid display against Chelsea.
Southampton earned a brilliant 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday, February 18. A free-kick goal from James Ward-Prowse gave the visitors the win.
Following his match-winning performance, Ward-Prowse was the subject of praise from Hammond. Apart from the goalscorer, Maitland-Niles also impressed the former Saints skipper.
The ex-midfielder has hailed Maitland-Niles’ display at Stamford Bridge as ‘fantastic’. He was particularly impressed with the Englishman’s composure. He said on Southampton’s The Final Whistle podcast:
"“I thought he was fantastic. I thought he played very well less week as well in a position we didn’t expect him to play, wide of that three at the back in that five-man defence, but brilliant.”“He almost looks like in cruise control really, he looks so composed and relaxed when he’s playing.”“I thought he was very, very good on the ball, his distribution was good, the best I’ve seen if I’m honest.”"
Hammond went on to analyse Maitland-Niles’ performance further:
"“He looked comfortable in the right-back position. I think sometimes it’s difficult for him because he can play in a number of positions, but he looked very, very comfortable in that right-back position.”“He was a threat going forward at times when he needed to, but very disciplined to hold his shape as well.”“Good in one-on-one situations, very, very good. I think he only lost out once to [Raheem] Sterling in the second half when he got a little bit outmuscled.”"
The former Saints captain added:
"“But the block was fantastic. Just being aware of the danger and knowing that he has to come across and cover the ground, not stay wide and try and protect his man and do his own job, that’s unselfish work there.”"
Southampton star Maitland-Niles impressed against Chelsea
Hammond also explained that Maitland-Niles appears to be enjoying his football with the Hampshire outfit. He is now hopeful that the former Arsenal man gets a consistent run of games under his belt. He said:
"“He looks like he enjoys his football, he looks like he is very, very relaxed, there is a smile on his face.”“It would be nice to see him get a consistent run in the team. [It was] a really, really good performance.”“The composure he had in possession and the composure he had in one-on-one situations were what really impressed me.”"
Maitland-Niles has made 16 appearances across all competitions for Southampton this season.