Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles after he started in his side’s 1-0 victory over Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsenal’s game against Watford was Arteta’s 100th in charge of the club. They lost their first three games of the season but they have been in great form since then.
The Londoners were seven games unbeaten in the Premier League heading into this weekend’s game against Watford.
The Gunners were much the better side versus Claudio Ranieri’s men. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a penalty in the first half before Emile Smith Rowe fired them ahead in the 56th minute.
The ball fell nicely for the Englishman on the edge of the penalty area and he was able to find the net past Ben Foster.
Juraj Kucka was sent off for Watford late on as Arsenal won 1-0. This victory moves Arteta’s side up to fifth in the table. They are now just six points behind Chelsea at the top of the league.
Maitland-Niles played the full 90 minutes for the first time in the league this season versus Watford. As reported by Football London, Arteta said after the game that he is now a “different player”:
On Maitland-Niles, Arteta said: “I think he’s a different player in terms of his urgency commitment, his clarity in play and his commitment.”
He added: “Nuno [Tavares] is playing because he deserves to play. He’s been exceptional since he’s been given the opportunity, but I cannot say anything different with Kieran [Tierney]. This is what we need. Two top players that are raising the level in the position.
“Kieran is going to go with Scotland. He was training inside the stadium today and he’s going to be available.”
Smith Rowe said after the game – as cited by BBC Sport – that this Arsenal team are like a “family”:
“It was a difficult game for us today. Watford are a strong team. Happy we got the three points.
“I am happy [to score] I have been practicing during training. It is really special and doing it at home and in front of our fans is even better.
“We have been working really hard, really important we got three points today.
“I think we always believed in ourselves and each other. It was just about coming together as a team and we are such a family.”
On not making England senior team: “It is important I just keep my head down and working hard I am happy whoever I get called up for.”