Wenger should stick the XI that beat Swansea at the weekend…
Here’s how we expect Arsenal and Napoli to lineup…
Because of his extensive injury list, Arsene Wenger’s hand is more or less tied in regards to what team he can pick, and we reckon he’ll stick with the same XI that started the Premier League victories over Stoke City and Swansea City the past two weekends.
This means Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will face Napoli’s loan spearhead Gonzalo Higuain, who so easily could have been an Arsenal player instead this season. He will be supported by Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne, who both like cutting in and joining in with the attack. Marek Hamsik is the creative hub of the team, and Mathieu Flamini will be charged with anchoring Arsenal and making sure the impressive Slovakian doesn’t dictate the game.
Arsenal’s central midfielders Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have the defensively minded and ultra hard-working combination of Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler to contend with in the middle of the park. While Ramsey and Wilshere are technical and creative, Inler and Behrami are powerful and dynamic, and Arsenal’s young pair will have to be at their best to dominate the crucial area of the pitch.
Mesut Ozil and Serge Gnabry have little defensive responsibility for Arsenal, and they will be charged with opening up Napoli’s defence, and targeting their fulbacks. Zuniga and Mesto are very attack minded, and space could open up down Napoli’s flanks if the pair get forward too often, meaning Gnabry and Ozil could potentially take advantage of this.
In Raul Albiol and Miguel Britos, Arsenal;s loan striker Olivier Giroud can expect a tough night, particularly with revitalised Liverpool loanee goalkeeper Pepe Reina marshalling the defence behind him.
Arsenal will have to be careful not to let Napoli’s fullbacks burst down the wings and overrun Arsenal in their own half, and Gibbs and Sagna will have to be at their defensive best. However, this could also be Arsenal’s best hope of creating space behind the Napoli defence. If Ramsey and Wilshere can feed Ozil in space quickly enough, the German has the ability to tee up Giroud with unmissable chances.