AINSLEY MAITLAND-NILES hailed Arsenal’s positivity since the restart as the driving factor behind their FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
Two goals from top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave the Gunners a record 14th FA Cup success after they came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1.
It represented a first piece of silverware as Arsenal boss for Mikel Arteta, not bad considering he only became a manager in his own right in December.
Europa League football was also secured in the process, despite the club finishing eighth in the Premier League.
Maitland-Niles — who started Saturday’s final — praised his side’s response after falling behind to Christian Pulisic’s fifth-minute goal for the Blues.
‘That’s what we’ve been working on since lockdown, having a positive attitude,’ the wing-back said.
‘Always wanting to win games even when we do go down, and playing our football no matter what happens.
‘It prevailed and it was fantastic to see the boys turn that around and really go all-out attack to win the game for us.’ He added: ‘It is a fantastic feeling, it is indescribable really. I’m proud of every one of my team-mates and staff members for putting the plan into motion and we executed it perfectly.’
Meanwhile, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta says his men have to look beyond refereeing decisions for the reasons why they lost. Substitute Mateo Kovacic was controversially sent off for two bookings while defender Azpilicueta and Pulisic limped off with injuries.
Referee Anthony Taylor and his assistants deemed Gunners keeper Emiliano Martinez had not handled outside his area — with replays proving inconclusive.
Taylor was also in charge when Arsenal won the 2017 final after the sending-off of Blues’ Victor Moses but Azpilicueta said: ‘A lot of times there were 50-50s (that went Arsenal’s way) and we had the same in 2017 but we have to look further than this. We have to look at ourselves.
‘We know two weeks ago when we played against Man United (in the semi-final), we really controlled it. It’s painful and a tough one to take.’
■ CHRISTIAN PULISIC and Cesar Azpilicueta will miss Chelsea’s Champions League tie at Bayern Munich on Saturday due to the hamstring injuries they suffered in the cup final. Ahead of the trip to face Bayern, who lead 3-0 from the last-16, first leg tie, boss Frank Lampard said: ‘The hamstrings have to be scanned and assessed over the next few days. They clearly won’t be fit for next week.’