Maitland-Niles made his third successive start in the Premier League at left-back for Arsenal.
The 20-year-old is naturally a midfielder and with two left-backs in the squad, it was always a risky move by Wenger.
Neville says Maitland-Niles was caught out of position for Philippe Coutinho’s opening goal for Liverpool.
And he says Arsenal were lucky the visitors were not further ahead at half time, with Maitland-Niles struggling on several occasions.
“The goal came about from a counter attack,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“Maitland-Niles, I always say that when the ball’s on your side it’s fine, but when you have to start searching for people you get drawn into a position you should never be.
“(Mohamed) Salah gets free on that right-hand side and it just becomes a race between (Granit) Xhaka, (Jack) Wilshere and Coutinho.
“Liverpool, the danger is that they’ve missed the chances. These chances, look at the boy at full-back.
“You can talk about not being targeted, but he has been targeted at that back post.
“It’s been a real problem for him and there’s been big, big chances for Liverpool.
“Again, look at the back post, ball-watching, not knowing the position.
“It’s tough on the kid, I’m not sure why you would put him in this game. When I look at that first half, he has struggled for me.
“Not on the ball, not when the ball was on his side, but when the ball has been away from him.”