Exciting night ahead. And who would have thought that many fans would not be sad if we lost this two-legged tie? Given the choice of a Top 4 spot and reaching the semi-finals (again) of the Europa with the prospect of a nerve jangling final against the Chavs, many would choose the PL position.
Not me. Silverware trumps Top 4 and there is no trophy for a CL place.
We have drawn the favourites for the EL, just as we did last year. We lost narrowly last time but I believe we can win this tie. Napoli are strong but certainly not unbeatable. A clean sheet tonight and I think we will go through.
Napoli have some fine players. Their talisman is Lorenzo Insigne who sadly for us has regained fitness after a month out. Alongside Milik and Mertens he makes up a formidable forward line. At the back is the much in demand, and likely to be the subject of a massive transfer fee, Kalidou Koulibaly (someone RC pointed out over a season ago). This chap is quality.
In goal should be our friend and current AFC player David Ospina but I guess he will not be allowed to play against us. This must be to our advantage
More of the same please.
Napoli have won the Scudetto twice, both times with a drug-fuelled but possibly GOAT Diego Maradona leading the team. I was in Naples for one of my honeymoons when Maradona was at his peak and the whole town worshipped the man. There were Maradona pizzas, Maradona gelati, pasta alla Diego, it was crazy. Eventually Diego was forced to take a drug test, found to be full of cocaine and banned from football for 15 months, but what a footballer he was. Since then second has been their best position
Managed by Carlo Wagnerotti, a man who has won everything there is to win, they are comfortably the second best team in Italy.
You may wonder why the Chavs are at home and AFC away for the second legs, it is because Chelsea are the FA Cup holders and as I told you, silverware trumps PL position.
We have the usual injury concerns and given the awful MF performance at Everton, the loss of Xhaka is a worry. So is the potential loss of Koscielny who will be very important if we are to keep the precious clean sheet.
I expect Mr Emery to take a safety first, pragmatic view of tonight’s game and play with a single striker and a packed midfield. If we win 1-0 he will be delighted as Arsenal are likely to score in Naples.
The Emirates should be rocking tonight the fans will be noisy. Hopefully they will get behind the team even if we concede early. This is a high profile game which will attract viewers all over the world and I would like the Gooners attending to put on a show.
I will be watching in a bar somewhere in the North of Italy, surrounded by Juventus fans, who will no doubt want an Arsenal win. So do I.