Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he took advantage of Newcastle fatigue as he brilliantly teed up the deadly Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s winning goal at St James’ Park.
On 58 minutes, the 21-year-old, a midfielder by trade but playing at right-back in Hector Bellerin’s absence, showed great awareness to steal a loose pass in his own half before bursting down the right flank. With space in front of him, he carried the ball 50 yards and then carefully weighted a cross for Aubamayang to pounce.
The Gabon international took one touch to control before deftly flicking over keeper Martin Dubravka, the only goal in the 1-0 win. The fleeting moment of quality was enough to separate the two sides in a scrappy encounter.
“It’s a hard match against Newcastle, especially away,” Maitland-Niles told Arsenal.com.
“They’re a team that can mix it up – they can play nice football and play long balls. It’s just a fight until the last whistle.”
Reflecting on his part in the goal, he went on: “On a big pitch like this, you can get tired, and I guess that’s what happened with their defence. It was a big opportunity for me to give it t him, I executed it well and his finish won us the game.
“I expect him to score. Him, Lacazette, Nico Pepe, Mkhitaryan – we’ve got good players that can score. We’re never in doubt when people are through on goal.”