Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor made their debuts for Arsenal away to Galatasaray in the Champions League last night.
Traditionally, Arsenal’s younger players are numbered in alphabetical order from the late 30s upwards, but this season this is done in two tranches – the players born in 1995, ’96 and the first half of 97 go from 37 (Semi Ajayi) to 57 (Josh Vickers). Then, the players from the second half of ’97 onwards are listed, starting with number 59 Marc Bola and going as far as Elliott Wright, who is 78.
Both Maitland-Niles and O’Connor are in this younger sector and so wear 70 and 73 respectively. It certainly looked strange.
Update: For 2015-16, Maitland Niles is on loan at Ipswich, where he wears 7. O’Connor is in the first rank of youths numbers this season, so he has 52.
I presume you’ve seen @ArsenalGent on Twitter?
It’s a humorous account, acting as if it’s the turn of the 18th/19th century and giving the foreign players posh English names and bios, generally of a military bent.
For example, the manager is Alan Windsor, the tall fair-haired centre-back is Lord Peregrine Meatlocker, his partner is Laurence Costerley and there is also a Lucien Ponsonby. However, he doesn’t feel the name to change the names of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Ainsley Maitland-Niles!
“Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Conservative”
Not a footballer’s name, sounds more like a Tory MP!