Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Arsenal's Champions League Game With Napoli Previewed

This season has being going really well for Arsenal as they sit majestically astride the Premier League and have won their first Champions League group game away to Marseille. After losing to Villa in their first game they have won nine games in a row (one on penalties) in all competitions. In fact that defeat to Villa is their only one in 21 games stretching back to last season.

The Premier League can be put aside for the moment though as it's back to the Champions League and their second group game at home to Napoli. In the context of the group it's a really important game in a very tough group. Napoli won their first game at home to Borussia Dortmund who were the runners up in this competition last season. 

With Dortmund at home to Marseille in the other group game the chances are they will get a win and Arsenal need to get one too to stay ahead in the group. After Napoli the next group game is at home to Dortmund in three weeks time and it would be great to go into that game at the summit of the group. Of course that won't be an easy task as Napoli are no pushover and will want to get something from the game themselves.

Napoli have had a very good start to their season and are unbeaten so far with six wins and one draw in all competitions. They are only being kept off the top of Serie A by a Roma team who have a 100% record in six league matches this season. They were very impressive in beating Dortmund at home in their first group game and their confidence is sure to be high.

They played Araenal in the Emirates Cup in early August but pre season friendlies are no real indication of a team's true ability. That game ended in a draw with Arsenal coming back from two goals down through Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny. There will be an awful lot more intensity to tonight's game though.

In team news Arsenal have no new injury worries after Saturday's 2-1 win at Swansea and they welcome Tomas Rosicky back to the squad after injury. I think the team is more than likely going to be the same as the one which won that game on Saturday and it's a fairly strong team. Despite the current injury worries at the club Arsenal have still had a very strong team in every game so far.

Both managers have being singing each other's praises ahead of the game, but I'm sure that's where the nicities will stop. Benitez's teams aren't exactly noted for their magnificent football, but they are never easy to beat. I'm sure he will set Napoli up to defend and try to hit Arsenal on the break when they can. 

They have used the money from the sale of Edinson Cavani to strengthen their team and it looks like it has been well spent. They pose a real threat to Arsenal and I'm sure Gonzalo Higuain will be anxious to get on the scoresheet against the club who were trying to sign him in the summer. There is no doubt that he is a very good striker and he will have to be watched very closely for every single minute of the game.

Of course Arsenal have some very good players of their own and are a very slick team in attack at the moment. Mesut Ozil has fitted right into the team and he has the genuine class which any team needs if they're going to truly challenge at the top. Also in midfield Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey and he is absolutely on fire so far this season with loads of goals, assists and tackles to his name. His performances in midfield have been exceptional and the whole team is benefiting from his current form. 

It will be a tough task for Arsenal tonight and they might have to be patient as they look to find the opening they need. They can't over commit players forward as they have to be sure they stay strong and compact at the back. The job Mathieu Flamini has to do in front of the back four will be very important as he looks to break up Napoli's play and stop them counter attacking.

I think Arsenal will edge a very tight game by the odd goal and leave themselves in a perfect position in the group. That should set them up nicely for the double header with Dortmund to come and give them a real chance of making it through to the knockout stages. I have a feeling Giroud could get his name up in lights and he might just be the man to score the all important goal for Arsenal.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Would you start TR7 over Serge if he's fit enough?

  2. I wouldn't have but that's why Arsene is the boss and not me.

    1. And that's why he gets paid the MUCH bigger bucks.

    2. Maybe I could fill in for him when he's on his holidays. Two weeks of his pay would do me for a year and a lot more too.