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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praises Ainsley Maitlaind-Niles for changing his mentality and mindest


Mikel Arteta handed a rare start to Ainsley Maitland-Niles against Manchester City (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta heaped praise on Ainsley Maitland-Niles after the 22-year-old repaid his faith with a superb performance against Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final victory.

The academy graduate featured prominently during the early weeks of Arteta’s tenure but fell out of favour following a breach of discipline when he turned up late for training.

Reports earlier this week claimed Maitland-Niles would seek a move this summer in the belief that his manager had lost faith in him.

Arteta brought Maitland-Niles back in from the cold against City and deployed him at left wing-back where he largely negated the threat of Riyad Mahrez and offered a real threat going forwards.

Appraising the youngster’s performance, Arteta said: ‘Absolutely, [he was magnificent. And I was sure about that with the way he’s training, the way he’s changed his mentality and his mindset.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles snuffed out the threat of Riyad Mahrez (Picture: Getty)

‘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 Gunners booked their place in the final thanks to two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and will now face either Chelsea or Manchester United at Wembley next month when they will aim to win the trophy for the 14th time.

On his preferred opponents, Arteta said: ‘I’m going to watch the game tomorrow and use that game to get something out of it. I don’t know, it’s not our decision.

‘We’ve done what we had to do today and now we need to prepare for the final against one of those opponents.’

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