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Young Gunner hails fans’ role

Arsenal players ‘dug in’ to beat United

15 March, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Photo: Kieran Clarke

AINSLEY Maitland-Niles believes that a combination of roaring home support and team unity is helping to turn the Emirates Stadium into a fortress.

The 21-year-old is rapidly establishing himself in the Arsenal first team after stepping into the right wing-back role following Hector Bellerin’s season-ending cruciate ligament injury. He put in another energetic performance on Sunday as the Gunners beat Manchester United 2-0 to inflict a first domestic defeat on interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

From his unique standpoint on the pitch, Maitland-Niles says he sees a group of players who “would die for the club”, being cheered on by “brilliant” supporters.

“To beat United was a fantastic result from the boys and I think everyone dug in as much as they could,” he said. “It’s a big, big result for us, 2-0 at home. People don’t come here and expect to win easily, but we’ve got to keep our roll going and make it hard for teams to come here so that they know they’re not going to win.

“The fans were brilliant and played their part. We need them behind us every step of the way. Not just the big games, even in the games where we don’t have to win but we should still win.”

The Gunners’ second goal against United came from a penalty after Alexandre Lacazette was brought down in the box. The French forward allowed strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubame­yang to take the spotkick despite the fact that he missed a penalty in the previous game away at Tottenham. Maitland-Niles says that proves how much everyone in the squad is looking after each other. “We’re all team players, you know,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey says he will leave behind “a work in process” when he makes the switch from Arsenal to Juventus in the summer. The 28-year-old added that there is still work to do under boss Unai Emery, even after the win over United saw them move back into the top four.
“We have had a new manager come in with new ideas and it has been a season of trying to adapt to certain things that he wants from us. Sometimes it has come off and sometimes it hasn’t – it is a work in process,” he said.

“I am just happy we won the game on Sunday and we have put ourselves in a great position to finish off the season and hopefully nick a top-four spot.”

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