I agree, actually, that he was pretty decent today.** Had some nice, clean, Arteta-like wins of possession, and a couple bits of decent composure I recall in short spaces: two things I’m not used to seeing from him. He over-hit a really straightforward through ball to Alexis which was frustrating, but then played a beautiful ball (with a much higher level of difficulty) to Ramsey I think that was just barely cut out.
I think I remember @Powderfinger making a post during the summer of '16 during the pre-season or early season which was really the first time I got excited about him, about the idea he would be a great finder of Özil between midfield lines, with vertical, interior passes. I’m really disappointed we haven’t seen much of that from him; too often it’s lifted balls out wide, or annoying long through balls, or even sometimes over-ambitious switches of play with no hope of bringing anything interesting in the case of a completed pass. This might (read: likely does) have something to do with Wenger’s coaching (read: lack of proper coaching of midfield/build-up play) as Arteta’s passing was very much like this as a 6, just better and more accurate, as he was a more intelligent player–but still, less inter-linking with the 8 (or the other 6 as Ramsey played at times), lots of safe balls out to wing backs or switches to wingers, and when there was/is time on the ball, usually over-ambitious/overly-direct through balls to the GK or the endline instead of finding the #10 or the #8 through the lines.
As it is, I would certainly play Maitland-Niles over him. He’s not orchestrating anything particularly interesting from the 6, so I would rather someone athletic who offers himself consistently, has a consistent first touch (and can recover from it with athleticism when not), and plays it simple. But I do still wonder if there’s a serviceable player there under a different manager.
**Important caveat: we played Everton, who was shocking. Haven’t watched most of our games this season, but that’s easily the worst team I’ve seen play against us/or in any game I’ve watched this season. Which is saying something as we played Hughes’ Stoke and I watched that one too.