Arsenal vs Napoli: possession vs counter attack


“It’s something I miss that I will try to fight very
hard to fill my CV with that… you always think
let’s do it every year, one year it will go for you.
Let’s hope it will be this year.

“If we get out of the group, I would say we have
a chance. Dortmund played in the final, Napoli
are a very good team and Marseille is not easy.
if we get out we have a chance. But what we
have to show is that we have the strength.

“It’s difficult to predict because it is a cup after
the group stage. After Christmas it’s about who
is available, who is fit and who isn’t. You cannot

Those were Wenger’s words in the build up to tonight’s game against Napoli at the Emirates.
And what a game it promises to be.

The two teams are not strangers to one another, with both competing against one another in the Emirates cup in August.
The game finished in a 2-2 draw, and it wouldn’t be folly to suggested that it may be the same outcome at the Emirates tonight.

A few years back, arsenal beat a Di Natalie led Napoli in a champions league qualifier round, but now, Napoli look a much better side, and only a high level performance from the hosts will guarantee a victory.
There will be no room for sloppy passes, or any form of  loss of concentration from either side, or the other team will surely punish, as both teams play incredible counterattacking football.

In terms of counter attack, Napoli may be slightly more accomplished at that, with Wenger himself stating:

“We have to be
organised against Naples, because they are a
team who are very good on the counter-attack.”

He added:

“That’s what struck me as well in the Emirates Cup
– when they win the ball they come out very quickly
with Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne and Higuain, [who]
come out like bombs all the time they win the ball.

Knowing what he knows, Wenger noted of his own team:

The transition from our side from offence to defence
will have to be very quick.”

Coming down to possession football, arsenal have the upper hand there and Benitez is well aware saying:

“We play against a team that have ball
possession as a strength. Against Dortmund [in
Napoli’s 2-1 opening-game win], we had to work
to be careful of counter-attacking. Now, we
need to change approach, as Arsenal will use
ball possession.”

This will make for an interesting contest, and I’m certain that this game will be one that will be pleasing to the eye.

In terms of team news, arsenal have only Rosicky back, and there are no new injuries, so the only change that the manager may consider is to bring in Rosicky for Gnabry. The 17 year old has done very well with the chance he has been given, but this game tonight might require a bit more experience.

Here’s my preferred lineup:
Sagna    Mertesacker    Koscielny    Gibbs
Ramsey   Flamini   Wilshere   Rosicky   Ozil

Napoli have to wait on Higuain as reports suggest that he is a doubt for tonight’s game. Other than that, they have no major injuries to contend with.

And that’s pretty much all for today.
I don’t belong to that school of thought that says winning tonight guarantees qualification.
In Europe, you can lose at home and win away. That’s just how it goes.

I, like Wenger, believe that you are guaranteed qualification when you win four games. A bit cynical, but it’s the simple truth.

So, enjoy the game tonight.


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