WE MUST PLAY ON THE FRONT FOOT/ AUBA-LACA TO START.
Emery said in the press conference that his team would play to win. I think that is a smart strategy. We have a team that always plays to win. It is their conditioning and their comfort zone. To try something else would leave them feeling out of sorts. Mind you, Emery’s statement is only a reference to the team’s mental approach to the game. His choice of formation and personnel could still be tilted defensively.
How is he going to balance it all up? It’s difficult to predict. He knows that Napoli is the best possession team in La Liga. He’s heard Ancelotti talk about how we started tiring in the later stages of the 1st leg and how he hopes to take advantage of it. He knows that Napoli has had an extra day of rest but he also knows he’s rotated his players all season up to our last match in anticipation of matches like this. He also knows that he has a 2-0 lead and that in the 49 matches that his team have played this season that it is only once (Liverpool at Anfield) that his team lost with more than two goals. Emery would be feeling confident that his team would qualify.
Cech, would be in goal. He is determined to end his career in style and we are all with him.
We can glimpse from the Watford match a few players that are bound to start: Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac meaning a 3-man central defence that would include Sokratis who was absent at Vicarage Road with rested Lacazette leading the line.
Was Torreira substituted so early in our last match with Napoli in mind? Torreira is at his disruptive best against short passing teams. I expect him to start. Ramsey was also substituted early. Ozil played for 45 minutes, Guendouzi for less. Were they used for resting players for the Napoli game or were they rested to be used today? Never any clear answer.
I would play my best defender in a crucial match like this. Emery would have taken the decision to rest Koscielny instead in our next match against Palace at the Emirate. With all these cup finals the best players have to be pushed close to their red zones.
My prediction of the starting eleven:
Aubamayang? Emery’s plan should be not to find his team chasing the game at any point so no point saving his ammunition. Aubama-bang one goal and they have to score four.
Bench: Leno, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Ozil.
We have played 49 games this season. Failed to score in only 6 of them. Conceded up to 3 goals in only 6 matches. Lost only once with up to 3 goals. This is a brew that tastes like we are going to qualify for the semi-final of the Europa League.