Ainsley Maitland-Niles proved himself vs. Paul Pogba - Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry says Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles belongs in central midfield after holding his own against Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.

Maitland-Niles was named man of the match despite Arsenal losing 2-1 at Manchester United after arguably his best performance for the Gunners.

The 20-year-old has made 19 starts in all competitions this season but has mainly been used to plug holes in the line-up at either a full-back or wing-back. Sunday's game was by far his biggest test as a central midfielder -- which Arsene Wenger has said is his best position -- and Henry was among those impressed with his performance.

"He has an idea of what he's supposed to do with the ball. What I like with him is that he has legs, he's a box to box player," Henry told Sky Sports.

"You know, you are against Matic and Pogba today and you didn't shy away from any challenge, wanting the ball, covering, putting your body in, and it's very good.

"He did go on the counter also so he was acting on both sides of the field. I think this is his best position. He had to do job at times at left-back, right-back, wing-back or whatever he played but this is best position."

Maitland-Niles paid tribute to the outgoing Wenger after the game for having the confidence to play him in such an important position against a top team.

"I'm happy playing in midfield and the boss trusts in me there," he told Arsenal's website.

"I guess I delivered. I love playing centre midfield and to do that for Arsenal at Manchester United in the Premier League is a dream come true. [Wenger] is like a father figure. He tells you where to improve and gives you a lot of confidence to go and play your game. It's brilliant having a manager like that.

"He's been like that for most of the young boys that have played this season. I thank him very much."

Wenger also handed a debut to 20-year-old Konstantinos Mavropanos, and he praised the number of young players coming through at the club.

"Niles is slowly getting to the player I think he can be in the defensive midfield, and he can create as well," Wenger said.

"Mavropanos in training has shown top qualities, but then you have always a question mark as long you don't see that under pressure in a big game. You don't know.

"And the big players do better in competition than in training, and they make a career.

"We have many players at our level who do less well in the competition than in training, so that was a question mark before the game and I think he surprised everybody by his quality today.

"Certainly, my successor will watch this game today and hopefully he will come to a positive conclusion for the players because I think for them it is [a case of] can they be part of the future of Arsenal Football Club?

"And I think some of them have shown today, yes, 100 per cent. I would say personally, 100 percent."

Information from PA Sport was used in this report.