Arsenal vs. Napoli – Champions League Match Preview
Once again, Arsenal managed another away win on Saturday, registering their 11th win on the road with a 2-1 victory at Swansea City. Arsenal now returns to the Emirates to face Napoli in their second Champions League group fixture.
This is not the first time Arsenal has faced Napoli this season, as we faced them in a pre-season match in August, a 2-2 draw. This time around is different though, as Arsenal now boast a confident side sitting atop the Premier League table and Mesut Özil on the first team squad now. We also have the blistering form of Aaron Ramsey.
That being said, Napoli are currently second in the Italian Serie A, and have 16 points through 6 matches (5 W, 1 D) to our 15 points through 6 matches (5 W, 1 L). Arsenal summer target Higuain has netted 4 goals so far this season for Napoli, but he sucks because Giroud has scored more goals. BFG and Koscielny should be able to shut him down quite nicely. Still, Rafa Benitez’ side will have plenty of fire going forward so we will have to be focused.
Thankfully, the squad gets a major boost as Tomas Rosicky is available for tomorrow’s match, giving Arsenal options to rotate/rest their midfielders, especially with some fixture congestion going on at the moment.
Starting with defense, I think we can expect to see Szczesny at keeper. It might be tempting to rest him and put Fabianski in, but I think this is a match Szcz will want to start. I expect that we can see our back four consist of:
Sagna – BFG – Koscielny – Gibbs
Wenger faces a challenge in that we certainly want to prioritize our position at the top of the table, but also guaranteeing 3 points tomorrow.
In terms of our defensive midfield option, one would assume that Arteta will come in place of Flamini, after Arteta got some much needed following his full 90-minute shift in the League Cup match last week. Super Jack would be a likely option next to him. Moving a little further up, I can see Özil and Ramsey being the favored options, and why the hell not? Özil, despite being limited by Swansea, needs no introduction, while Ramsey can score on command. Serge Gnabry, not to be outdone, will also likely line up on the right wing, and should have a nice confidence boost after netting his first goal against the Swans.
Lastly, Giroud will surely start at striker, although if Arsenal can manage a two-goal lead, it would be reasonable to see see him subbed off for Nicklas Bendtner at some point in the second half. Wenger has targeted 10 points in the group stage, and handling Napoli tomorrow can represent yet another boost for our squad before our trip to face West Brom on Sunday.
Head to The Olde Ship Santa Ana or any local sports bar to get your midweek Arsenal fix. Match audio will also be available on Arsenal player with a free digital membership.