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Arsenal v Napoli Preview, Squad News, Preferred XI, Prediction
Arsenal take on Italian giants Napoli at the Emirates tonight in a crucial Champions League group game.
We currently sit joint top of Group F with the Serie A side after we recorded exactly the same winning scoreline in the first round of fixtures; we beat Marseille 2-1 while they saw off 10-man Borussia Dortmund by the same score.
A 2-1 win away at Swansea on Saturday extended our excellent recent run and we head into tonight’s game sitting top of the Premier League table having won five and lost once of our opening six games.
Napoli are also in superb form and actually have a slightly better domestic record, winning five and drawing the other, but still sit second behind leaders Roma who have maximum points so far.
There is little doubt we’re going to be playing an extremely talented outfit and with Rafa Benitez at the helm, they should be well prepared to play against us. The Spaniard has pit his wits against Wenger on numerous occasions in the past but they have had some kind words to say about each other in the build up to the game so there shouldn’t be any fireworks on the touchline this evening.
The good news is that Tomas Rosicky is back in the squad after recovering from a thigh injury. The Czech midfielder picked up the problem while away on international duty a month ago but he returned to training on Sunday and could start.
We have no new injury worries so it’s going to be largely the same squad that faced Swansea, meaning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, About Diaby, Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo all remain on the sidelines.
Serge Gnabry was excellent in the game at the weekend but after playing 3 times in 7 days, the youngster may need a rest tonight which could see Rosicky come in on the right side.
I’ve also just heard on Sky Sports News that Napoli striker, and former Arsenal target, Gonzalo Higuain is only rated at 50:50 to start tonight. It will be a huge boost if he’s out, not only because he’s an excellent striker but you just know he’d score against us after all that went on in the summer.
After beating Marseille we can put ourselves in the driving seat with a win tonight. Typically, you need 10 points to qualify and if we could reach 6 with 12 still available, including two further home games, we’ll be in great shape to secure qualification from a very tough group.
Napoli are going to be a dangerous side, particularly if Higuain starts, but I’m going to back the boys to continue our run and edge this one. Arsenal 2-1 Napoli
What are your thoughts on tonight’s game?