Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he’s was ‘pretty certain’ Alexandre Lacazette would score a free-kick sooner or later, as the striker practises them regularly.
Arsenal overcame Napoli 1-0 at the San Paolo stadium on Thursday, to progress to the Europa League semi-finals. The turning point in the tie was when Lacazette’s free-kick gave the Gunners a crucial away goal, leaving their opponents needing four to prevent Unai Emery’s side from progressing.
We haven’t seen Lacazette take too many free-kicks in the past, so it may have caught some by surprise to see it fly into the net, but not Maitland-Niles.
“He is always practising free kicks so I was pretty certain he would score one sooner or later, and he did it today in a big game,” Maitland-Niles revealed.
“[He works on it] all the time, he’s a player that wants to work and wants to win. He wants to win all the time, he is very passionate about his football and you could see today what the goal meant to him.”
Lacazette also scored a set-piece against Bournemouth in February, so he’s starting to make a case for himself to take more of them. Overall, the striker has 16 goals, nine assists and he’s won a couple of penalties as well this season.
The important thing is that teammates like Maitland-Niles clearly have faith in him to produce when it counts. That certainly helps fill you with confidence when stepping up to take a crucial free-kick like on Thursday night, and so it proved.