Napoli v Arsenal Line-Up|Preview: Emery to Play the Big Guns


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.


By PE.

52 thoughts on “Napoli v Arsenal Line-Up|Preview: Emery to Play the Big Guns

  • Great stuff, PE, and you could well be right with that starting eleven. I would play a 4-2-3-1 and sit a bit deeper to get the space to counter Napoli on:
    Must – Koz – Sok – Nacho
    Ramsey — Mesut —– Iwobi
    ————– Laca —————–

    Kola, Auba, AMN and Mkhi available for making tactical changes and attacking options. —

  • TA …. yours is a good team and a likely one too. It is a team that would defend her lead through possession. I like it.

  • From a purist point of view I prefer yours, PE. But yes being able to keep the ball and pass well to control the tempo is important, I think. All these players are comfortable with the ball and there is enough goal threat from Laca, Rambo and Ozil to score that all important away goal… and if not we have a fresh Auba and hopefully focussed Mkhi to come on.

    I also prefer for Kos and Sok to play in classical back four rather than in a back three. That way we will also see more solid performances from Must and Nacho.

    I half expect Emery to start with a DM pivot of Xhaka or Torreira and Rambo btw.

  • That midfield-3 of Torreira-Ramsey-Xhaka is so enticing, TA. That would make it a 4:3:3 with maybe Ozi, Iwobi and Laca as front-3. It looks so balanced.

  • Great post PE, really chest thumping stuff amigo.

    Has this bunch of players learnt anything from last season where we were mugged by Atletico?
    I though 12 months ago that we showed naivety at the Emirates, we were just not quite cynical enough to manage the game, but not conceding at home in the 1st leg kinda points to the fact that as a group we have learnt from that painful lesson a year ago.
    Now we have to go into the lions den and show that we have the mental strength, diligence and resilience to grind out a result if we have to. It’s all part of the process…

    Great points about rotation PE, Emery has done this all season as you say, maybe not always deliberately but in the main I think that that has been his policy, remember it’s his first season in the mincer that is English football, he is learning how to spread the load for his squad, his staff and for himself.

    Mavropanos is a point in fact, did Emery’s throw him in vs Watford because looking ahead he could see the Palace fixture – no Sokratis, Koscielny in the red zone?

    He’s managed Ramsey brilliantly this season, no soft tissue injuries for Aaron, he hardly ever plays the entire 90 minutes, he uses him in bursts and has definitely worked on the tactical side of his game. Juventus are gaining a more complete player next summer.

    For tonight, we have to be prepared for a hot reception from the South Italians, an early goal for them and we’ll have to show enormous resolve, Emery has already spoken of preparing for a game that could go to extra time and penalties, elementary Dr Watson….

    If we score first it kills the Neapolitan threat, we can then sit back and enjoy our gelato…

    A score draw for me, 1-1 or 2-2… COYG

  • I agree with your line-up. 100%. but i’m afraid unai won’t play lacaauba together, and will slot in alex instead. there’s nothing to dislike about alex, he’s obviously a nice lad, but as footballing skills go, i have more and more difficulty to put up with his number of touches before actually using the ball, with the number of minutes played he needs before scoring a goal, … i wish eddie nketiah had been given but only one/tenth of his playing time, that boy’s really somethin’ else, a true scrin’ machine
    anyway, COYG as you say, make us proud!

  • Great comment, Kev. I think we are nowhere near a team that at any time can sit back and enjoy our gelato, even if we score. I guess it is really important that we go out there with the genuine desire to win the game whilst not taking too many risks at the back. If we can play with that mindset for 90 minutes, I reckon we will even win the game. If we are caught between mindsets, it could all go wrong. Biggest worry is a dodgy ref giving us an early red card, pen against us etc. COTA!

  • Agreed LeG, Iwobi needs more goals. However, his main job is to produce attacking balls and if you watch back the game v Watford in the second half, you’ll see he did really well in that regards (my MOTM).

  • Yes Kev. ….. by his substitutions alone,against Watford, he has these players fresh enough got today’s match .. M-Niles, Torreira, Ozil, Ramsey, Guendouzi. That’s brilliant. We could see the five of them stating plus Laca, Papa, Kola and Cech who didn’t play at all. That’s 9 fresh legs.. That is genius.

    ~~Papa. Kos. Monr.
    AMN. Torr. Guendz. Kola.
    ~~Ozil. Laca. Iwobi.

  • Le G. … Iwobi is a ball carrier which has its special value. I only wish that when he gets into the box he stops thinking “it’s dance time”. Even there he is improving.

  • Yes Total, I forgot the Catch 22, the officials, although I have more confidence in those that do our european matches as they haven’t been infected by Mike Riley.

    I take your point regarding the ice cream TA, it would be foolish to switch off if we score, although I think that Napoli would drop physically and it would make the whole picture less stressful for us.
    But you’re right…

    I’m working on a post about contracts, I’ll straighten it out in a few days TA…

  • Absolutely PE, I get the feeling that Emery has slightly prioritised the Europa, straight out of the George Graham school of winning trophies – hopefully.

  • Being caught in two minds is what went wrong for City last night. They seemed uncertain what to do after going one up; control the game and patiently wait for the tie winning second goal, OR just go all out to score as many as possible, trusting in their ability to outscore the Spuds. It backfired as the Spuds kept scoring during moments of hesitation by the City defence.

    We need to think only about winning this game and be ready for the fight. The message will be sent with the line up the manager picks so, I will agree with PE’s original line up as it has a strong defensive spine while suggestive of a potent threat in Laca, Auba and Rambo.

    I understand the centre referee for the game has issued the highest number of yellow cards in Europe this season while we have 3 players on the brink of yellow card related suspension. The likes of Sokratis and Xhaka have to be walking on eggshells all game long.

    It will be tense tonight, that’s for sure.

  • 3-4-3 with Rambo, Laca and Auba in attack… Solid enough defensively but a big gap between central midfield and attack possibly. Rambo will have to run his heart out.

    Koz – Sok – Nach
    AMN – Xhaka – Tor – Kola
    Rambo – Laca – Auba

  • Team sheets out.

    Meret, Maksimovic, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Callejon, Allan, Zielinski, Fabian, Insigne, Milik.

    Subs: Ospina, Hysaj, Malcuit, Mario Rui, Verdi, Younes, Mertens

    Cech, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Aubameyang, Lacazette

    Subs: Leno, Mustafi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi

  • Hard work is required, all round. TA, that gap you referred to is precisely what bothers me too, as we hardly have creativity from the midfield front, but players adapt very quickly in such circumstances. Kolasinac and AMN should be able to pose a threat from the flanks while Xhaka and Torreira have the ability to give the long, defence splitting passes for Auba to run onto.


  • Laca likes dropping deep so in reality it’s more of 3:4:2:1 than 3:4:1:2

  • Pony Eye says:
    April 18, 2019 at 19:30
    That’s line up is another 100% for the post.

    I told you so, didn’t I? 😜

  • Yes Laca drops deep by necessity and then it leaves little footballing skills up-front as Auba has his limitations. Let’s hope he’ll make up for it with his finishing.

  • Great job, PE, with the line-up!!!

    We aim to win (says Emery) but clearly (to me, at least) he doesn’t mean that we want the ball in order to attack their goal…as such, I’m not sure why we should worry about being “of two minds.”

    We have kickoff…

    I do not like the red shorts…

  • 10 minutes played and we’re keeping them penned in their half nicely…and even making some forays that look a bit threatening through the wing-backs…

  • From our corner, Napoli break and looked likely to score. Cech makes a very solid foot save, but the shot might’ve been better placed…

  • 24th min… Ball’s in our net but offside flag comes up… Actually closer than it looked but clearly offside. No VAR in this tournament, right?…

    Generally, with our defensive lines set, Napoli possession doesn’t feel overly threatening… IMO…

    Xhaka down, but it looks quite harmless…

  • 28th min… high angled cross and Napoli get a head to it but it’s well wide. A half chance at best…

    Half an hour played and we look a bit chastened about getting too many bodies forward in attack. Laca and Rambo almost combined but Napoli broke…AMN cleaning it up…and leading to our first (maybe?…) shot on target…Auba got some dip on it but it was straight to keeper from 20 yds. Rambo down now and it might be the (Easter?) Ham(string)…

    Is he already under contract at Juve?…

    Mkhi on in his stead. End of Rambo’s Arsenal career, I’m guessing…

  • Whoa…Lacazette with a sublime FK… Keeper leaning the other way and the wall was also set up for Kola to take it….

    We’re in the semis…

  • OK, nobody’s around and I’ve got a lot on my plate… Enjoy…

  • 17ht, no one can watch and post like you. Always gave your posts a glance as I listened to the commentaries; game isn’t on TV here.

    Going in a goal up at half time, surely gives us something to hold onto in the 2nd half. Don’t forget Ancelotti thinks we will grow weary late on. We can’t afford to rest on our oars and have to keep the focus till the result is absolutely certain.

  • Really happy with that away goal. Just what we needed and Napoli did not. I hate the away goal rule in general, but of course if it works for us we got to be grateful. We don’t want them to score a goal straightaway and let’s hope we don’t start thinking about our game on Sunday. Feel sorry for Ramsey.

  • Lacazette is subbed off. Job done, I guess, but I wish we weren’t so fast in using up our subs. Laca has a way of pinning back defenders just by being about. Hopefully, Iwobi can scare their full backs enough to maintain the status quo. Nearly there.

  • Good job lads. We didn’t push forward and felt that we were too deep but i guess that was to soak up the pressure.

    Second game in a row away, second clean sheet. Mkhi should have done better and create better passes, but were wayward 9 times out of 10. One superb pass found Auba clean through but the keeper was at the right place at the right time.

    It’s Good Friday here in Singapore and wish all a happy holiday.

    Next up, Valencia in the Semi Final.

  • Yeah, great week. The away clean sheets are rolling in now; to think Napoli was the side we most wanted to avoid and we’ve just made light work of them. So, Gabriel Paulista and Coquelin will be coming home to the Emirates, rather than Cazorla.

  • I watched the whole game with my son and we were both amazed that Arsenal had most of the possession as it seemed fairly even to me.

    If Napoli are the bookies, or were, favourites for the Europa then that must make Arsenal 2nd favourites now, which suits me, let Chelsea take all the attention.
    I actually thought that Napoli are a really poor team, there were some players who over 180 minutes have shown that their reputation is not as it seems…

    I’m hoping that Ramsey can heal quickly, maybe 3 or 4 weeks, but he should be back for the Europa final should we get there.

    Ozil now has the opportunity to take centre stage and see us over the line for 4th in the Prem.

    Emery will need to give his line up for Sunday a lot of thought as Xhaka looked knackered and Torrieira probably deserves a breather, Guendouzi will be fresh as will Elneny, then into the mix should come Mustafi, Mavropanos, Jenkinson, maybe a youngster or two?

    Last man standing….

  • Kev–
    Was thinking same watching it later last night (work prevented watching it live). That Napoli, who is comfortably in 2nd in Serie A? Is a CL Group #2 seed next season. Arsenal’s back-7 did a very good job, both legs, of keeping Napoli’s attackers from getting shots on-frame.

    Eris mentioned the very small elephant in-the-room…
    This leaky-creaky defense we’ve all come to cringe over for so long?
    Have, since away at Rennes– allowed one, single, goal– over seven matches all comps.
    Last night, I’ll add– it was Monreal with the best shot on Cech’s goal. 😉


    **Props to PE on another winning lineup selection. It’s never been simple with UE. You should consider playing the lottery!**

  • Isn’t Suarez injured Total?

    Torrieira, Xhaka and Suarez all have groin issues, so I heard…

    Joe Willock scores goals from midfield, he has the Midas touch, or certainly has this season, maybe we have a possible candidate for replacing Ramsey in situ..?
    A seat on the bench perhaps?

  • Elneny and Xhaka pairing will do for me, Kev. Elneny did well protecting the back on Thursday night, so by pairing them in midfield we should be good.

  • Good shouts, Kev. Wasn’t aware of Suarez’s fitness issues… It is a must win game so I am expecting Emery to play a very strong team from the start and then take a few ‘red-zoners’ off in the second half.

  • JW, whilst not wanting to get ahead of myself and accepting that the vagaries of form and injuries could always have an effect, I’m asking myself if Valencia are better, worse or on a par with Napoli?

    Whilst Valencia have had the upper hand in our three previous meetings, allied to Arsenal’s traditional poor form against Spanish teams, I think this time, with a Spanish manager/head coach at the helm, that we should finally be able to get one over the team from East Espana.

    They haven’t got a John Carew this time (Coquelin is suspended from the 1st leg I’ve heard) in fact, other than they’re two ex-Gunners I can’t think of a single Valencia player, no Mario Kempes or David Villa or David Silva or Juan Mata this time.

    If Emery can negotiate our next two Prem games without losing anymore players to injury as well as rotating them as much as he can to save energy, then I think we’ll have too much for them.
    Also Aaron could be back for the 2nd leg…

  • Yeah Total, I agree with you, as long as we contain Zaha, we contain Palace…

    84, Elneny did ok when he came on that’s true, his remit suited his skill set in that it was all about containment and game management. But we’re going to need Ozil massively against Palace, to open them up, we’re going to miss Ramsey’s energy enormously unless Guendouzi can find some form.

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