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Arsenal allowing Maitland-Niles to close on Champions League dream

13:59 GMT+3 02/04/2019
Arsenal celebrate Aaron Ramsey's goal vs Newcastle 2019
The Gunners youngster believes Unai Emery's side can secure a return to European football's top table after climbing to third in the Premier League

Ainsley Maitland-Niles admits it is “every team’s dream to play Champions League football”, with Arsenal close to fulfilling theirs after climbing to third in the Premier League table.

Unai Emery’s debut campaign as Gunners boss has been an eventful one to this point.

A 22-game unbeaten run was taken in at one stage before familiar struggles away from home threatened to derail a bid for a top-four finish.

Arsenal have got back on track, with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle lifting them above Manchester United and arch-rivals Tottenham in the English top-flight standings.

A return to elite continental competition is now edging ever closer, with Emery’s side also chasing down Europa League glory, and Maitland-Niles is determined to help them over the line.

The 21-year-old academy graduate, who made his debut in a Champions League clash with Galatasaray back in 2014, has said of Arsenal’s ambition: "It's every team's dream to play Champions League football.

"It's the best European competition in the world. To play against all the big teams would be fantastic and you get to test yourself fully.

"That's all we wanted to do, to go out there and win. We've made one step closer to succeeding."

Arsenal headed into a meeting with Newcastle at Emirates Stadium aware that victory would see them overtake two old adversaries.

Maitland-Niles admits seeing Spurs come unstuck against Liverpool a day earlier had provided added motivation for the Gunners, with Emery’s now the leading side in north London once more.

The England U21 international added when asked if a setback for Spurs had offered an extra incentive: "Yes, of course.

"I'm pretty sure everyone was at home watching the game. Everyone studied Newcastle too.

"It's just a good opportunity now for us to go out there, show our quality and say, 'look, we are one of the best teams in the league and we can compete for the Champions League once again'."

Arsenal will be back in action on Sunday when they travel to Everton, before then turning their attention to the first leg of a heavyweight Europa League quarter-final clash with Napoli.