Maitland-Niles: Napoli win is a weight lifted from our shoulders

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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.”

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Teryima Adi
Teryima Adi

You’re doing great, Maitland–Niles, and long may it continue.

Archer
Archer

I feel like he’s pretty good in this position and the only thing holding him back to becoming an excellent right back is him not seeing himself playing there in the long term. I hope he won’t “the ox” himself out of the team.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

We can’t say he’s fully written himself out of the position. He may end up really liking it.

Goonerink
Goonerink

I think he is very much like Kolasinac
A stop gap option in a back 4 but thrives in the wing back role.
He has the luxury at the moment of not having a set position.

I honestly struggle to think of what bellerin does dramatically better.

Niran
Niran

Have got so much confidence in this Lad… Playing in a back 5 his performances has been very good ..the challenge for him now is to deliver also in a back 4 like Bellerin used to do…COYG! let’s make it to BAKU

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

Noisy maybe, but a predominately empty stadium.

A Different George
A Different George

I think the stadium was full, except for the bottom four or five rows all around; this made it look empty when the cameras were focused on the pitch (as they usually were). I assume that because the pitch is surrounded by a track and the seats are far back, the lowest rows have poor sight-lines.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

“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.”

‘member when Emery’s man management was questioned?

Santori
Santori

Wingbacks are critical in current system.

Both Kolasinac and AMN make a massive difference in quality.

Kolasinac I feel plays best with Iwobi in tandem. They seem to have good intuition to each other.

AMN is night and day above all other options at Rback even if he is still very much in evidence work in progress with some deficiencies to work on. His power and control makes the difference.

I mentioned last season Rback IS his NATURAL position. He executed Lback for us well enough and he is naturally right sided.

Some people still prefer to imagine him in midfield go figure.

After AMN the options fall off the cliff.

Lichsteiner is another example of Mslintat/Raul wasting resource and over loading our wage bill. Such that we are now in PANIC LOAN era.

He’s barely featured for 90K a week.

May as well have done a better job convincing Chambers to stay within the squad this season. He would have had use as Right of back 3, wingback (He played fullback at Soton, his NATURAL position) and maybe even in the midfield as a DM if need be (sell Elneny)

Jenkinson another who cannot be sold bc no buyers. Decidedly average player over lauded ad tedium by certain fans who like to wank over his gooner credentials over real quality.

He’s so good Mustafi is preferred in his place…and the German did a decent job even if it really isn’t the best policy to use him there.

Hopefully AMN and Kolasinac can stay fit. Its just 5 league matches lads. And the two semifinal legs. Prepare yourselves mentally por favor.

George
George

He’s really starting to get the hang of it out there and who knows where he’ll end up.

Hopefully he’s just the beginning of a steady academy influx over the next few seasons.