Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admits he was pretty nervous watching Ainsley Maitland-Niles stepping up to take his penalty on Thursday.
Just like in the Community Shield, Arsenal and Liverpool ended level after 90 minutes on Thursday. With a place in the League Cup quarter-finals on the line, the two teams went to penalties. Arteta clearly wasn’t sure about Maitland-Niles’ confidence, though.
With Arsenal 3-2 down and just a couple of penalties to go, a miss from Maitland-Niles would give Liverpool the chance to win it. Yet he ambled up to the spot like he didn’t have a care in the world.
Thankfully, the 23-year-old slotted the spot-kick away and Arsenal won the shootout. But Arteta joked he isn’t sure how good the player’s calmness is for his own health.
“I told him in the dressing room, ‘I’m going to have a heart attack’, because with his body language it was like ‘Jesus Christ!’,” Arteta said afterwards. “And then he puts it in the net.”
The defender is getting a bit of a reputation for shootout goals, particularly against Liverpool. He scored one in the same fixture last season, then another in the Community Shield, and now again back at Anfield.
Unfortunately for Arteta, I don’t see Maitland-Niles changing his style anytime soon. If it’s working, it may not be great for our nerves, but it does the job for the team.