Arsenal’s impressive win against Napoli in the first leg of the Europa League quarter final, was only marred by lack of goals.
If they had taken all their chances, the tie would have been over, but they have managed to leave the door open for Napoli to overturn the deficit in Italy.
In short, Arsenal will be in the driving seat if they defend well and score an away goal. And if they play to Emery’s instructions, they could actually win by a similar margin.
I expect Napoli to be more direct and that they will force the tie. Moreover, they have no choice.
That combination ?
That finish ?
Let's have more of this tomorrow, @aaronramsey ?
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 17, 2019
The major plus for the Italian’s is their home advantage at the San Paolo Stadium and surely, there isn’t anyone alive that doesn’t know about the Gunners dire away form.
This tie, on paper, is in the balance and it could easily go against Arsenal if they make mistakes or lose concentration or focus.
Napoli will fancy their chances, especially if they stop being pathetic in front of goal and start converting their opportunities.
An early goal for the hosts will increase the pressure on Arsenal and any side that has to defend for long periods eventually breaks, so it’s important to at least offer the odd foray into the Italian half, if only to give them something else to think about.
Arsenal had to endure a long evening against a spirited Watford side who were a man down after only 11 minutes and it required the brilliance of Bernd Leno and a dash of good fortune to keep the three points.
Arsenal may have to endure something similar in the first 45,unless they steal a goal to unsettle their hosts.
There will be more changes ahead because fortunately, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is only unavailable in the Premier League. Other changes will probably see Mkhitaryan benched and the return of Cech in goal, Maitland-Niles in a defensive wing role, with the addition of Kolasinac and Lacazette.
I wouldn’t be completely surprised, if Aubameyang were expendable for at least the first half as Emery looks to find a formation to dominate the midfield and dictate the pace but that might be a fanciful notion.
Preferred line up Against Napoli:
Defense: Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac
Midfield: Xhaka, Torreira; Ozil, Ramsey, Iwobi,
Probable Lineup Against Napoli:
Defense: Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal
Midfield: Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Ozil
Attack: Lacazette, Aubameyang