Ainsley Maitland-Niles says Arsenal’s progress to the Europa League semi-finals represents a weight lifted off the squad’s shoulders.
The Gunners will take on Valencia for a place in the final after Alex Lacazette’s superb free-kick secured a 1-0 win at Napoli and a 3-0 aggregate victory.
After the match, Maitland Niles, who put in a very solid shift in the right wing-back slot, was quick to praise his teammates.
“It felt like a weight lifted off our shoulders, the team deserved it,” he told Arsenal.com.
“We were good on our defensive duties today from the top of the team where the strikers were to the keeper. Everyone played their part so it was good.”
Maitland-Niles also touched on the feisty atmosphere in the San Paolo and how it forced them to be even more vocal on the pitch.
“There was a lot of noise. Coming to these teams in Europe where they have bigger stadiums and the crowd reacts differently to what happens on the pitch, it’s difficult hear your own teammates.
“We worked well, we shouted at each other so we knew what we were doing.”
Arsenal turn their attention to three important Premier League games before hosting Valencia at the Emirates on 2 May. Looking ahead to the tie with Unai Emery’s old club, Maitland-Niles said the boss has given the squad confidence to keep delivering results.
“I’m pretty confident [going into the semi-finals], the manager’s belief in us is tremendous.
“The way he speaks about us as players, individuals and as a team is very, very good.
“Everyone is bouncing off each other right now, we trust each other and believe in each other. Our ability is beyond doubt right now. We just need to keep it going into the next game.”