There wasn’t a duff performance from the Arsenal players in tonight’s 2-0 win over Man City which sent us through to the FA Cup final.
However, one man in particular can feel very pleased with himself. Ainsley Maitland-Niles might have been a surprise selection for the left-sided wing-back role, but played fantastically well, repaying Mikel Arteta’s faith in him.
At the end of a week in which stories emerged about his potential departure, it almost felt as if his inclusion was a way for the manager to demonstrate his belief in the 22 year old.
It was put to Arteta that AMN had been magnificent, and he told arsenal.com, “Absolutely. And I was sure about that with the way he’s training, the way he’s changed his mentality and his mindset.
“He has everything, he has great qualities, I believe in him. I had to give him opportunities and today he took it with both arms.
“He had a really good performance.”
The commitment from his players is something the Arsenal boss is delighted with, and it sounds as if the recent schedule has been extremely demanding for them on a physical level.
“They are trying to play every week, every day,” said Arteta. “It doesn’t matter, we have players with injections, players that were sick, but they’re willing to play.
“At the moment I have a feeling that I can pick anybody that is ready to play and perform at that level.”