Gunners entertain Napoli in exciting quarter-final clash


Unai Emery’s Arsenal entertain Italian side Napoli in the first leg of a mouth-watering Europa League quarter-final clash.

The two teams have only faced off twice before when being drawn together in the 2013/14 Champions League group stages. On those occasions, both sides registered a 2-0 home win each as Arsenal secured second position in the group and Napoli exited into the Europa League despite finishing level with the Gunners on 12 points.

Arsenal’s home record against Italian opposition will give Emery confidence of securing a first leg advantage, the north London club winning ten, drawing four and losing only twice.

In addition to this, Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli have a poor record on British soil. Gli Azzurri are without a win away at a Premier League club in seven visits, most recently losing at Anfield in December. They did progress past Swansea City in the Europa League round of 32 after a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium but lost to Chelsea after extra-time in the round of 16 stage in the 2011/12 Champions League.

The Naples outfit will miss Amadou Diawara and Raul Albiol through injury but will be boosted by the returns of Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Verdi who should be back available for the visitors.

Both clubs have been ever-present of the Champions League over the last decade but are now both embarking on successive campaigns in the Europa League.

Arsenal cruised through Group E before knockout victories over BATE Borisov and Rennes whilst Napoli finished third behind Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool before victories over Zurich and Salzburg saw them in the hat for the quarter-finals.

The English side lost their first legs against BATE and Rennes and Ancelotti will be hoping to capitalise on this once more.  Ancelotti has coached in England with Chelsea and has previously worked with Gunners Petr Cech and Mesut Özil during his illustrious managerial career.

Arsenal could be without Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny after missing their 1-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday whilst Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck remain on the sidelines.

Unai Emery’s team are the only surviving team from last season’s quarter-finals and may continue the rotation that has seen Arsenal use the most players in the competitions so far (30).

Arsenal will be confident of continuing their fine home form, which has seen seven straight wins in all competitions, whilst Napoli will be out to cause an upset.


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