Mikel Arteta explains how Ainsley Maitland-Niles nearly gave him "heart attack"


Mikel Arteta has admitted that Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ penalty technique can be difficult to watch at times – but praised the youngster for sticking his spot-kick away in Arsenal’s win against Liverpool.

The Gunners are through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after they saw off the Reds 5-4 in a penalty shootout following a goalless 90 minutes at Anfield on Thursday.

With Liverpool winning 3-2 in the shootout, there was big pressure on Maitland-Niles to level the scores as he took the fourth penalty, especially after he had come on as an 86th minute substitute.

But after his traditional nonchalant run-up he calmly buried his effort, sending Adrian the wrong way.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles leads the celebrations after Arsenal’s victory

Speaking after the game, Arteta couldn’t deny how worried he felt when Maitland-Niles first stepped up.

“I told him in the dressing room that I’m going to have a heart attack because with his body language… Jesus Christ,” Arteta said.

“He puts the ball in the net which is the reason why he was one of the subs.”

Despite his nervous watch, Arteta couldn’t hide his delight at his side’s progression, and praised their mentality for overcoming the Premier League champions following their defeat against the same opponents on Monday.

Arteta admitted it was a nervy watch

“I’m really happy with the performance, the boys were exceptional,” he added. “We corrected a few things from Monday. The way we played against this team was superb.

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“It’s the third time in the last eight weeks that we’ve played against the best team in Europe. To come here and play at Anfield and show the determination and courage that we have tonight is a big step for the team.

“I told them after Monday that we made a big step forward and that we have a lot of things to learn from an exceptional team, but we are in the right path.”

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