Maitland-Niles buoyed by Emery's belief in Arsenal stars
Arsenal are growing stronger thanks to the unflinching belief Unai Emery has in his players, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has said.
The Gunners reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday after a 1-0 win over Napoli in Italy secured a 3-0 aggregate victory in the last eight.
With a top-four finish in the Premier League still in their own hands, a positive end to Emery's first season in charge is looking likely.
Maitland-Niles, who has impressed as a right wing-back in recent weeks, says confidence in the squad is growing by the week thanks to the head coach's positive approach.
"He's given us a lot of confidence," the 21-year-old said at the San Paolo. "He's backing us. He's telling us how he believes in us so much and we're believing in each other, even more and more every day.
"We're growing as a team. The team spirit's very high, we all look to each other for inspiration.
"That's what you need from a manager, to pat you back on the back when you don't do well, and when you do do well, pat you on the back even harder and say, 'Look, this is fantastic', and he's just done that throughout the season for me."
Arsenal withstood some heavy Napoli pressure to ease into the last four as they claimed a sixth win and clean sheet in all competitions out of their last seven matches.
Maitland-Niles thinks they are learning to how best to approach two-legged ties to ensure positive results, having lost away matches to BATE and Rennes in the previous rounds.
"You can score as many goals as you want, but if you don't defend properly then that game could go either way, as we saw in the Champions League," he said.
"I think sometimes we need to be like the foreign teams and stick with it for 90 minutes and just grind out results. I think it's going well at the moment."
Next up for the Gunners is Sunday's visit of Crystal Palace.