UEFA Europa League: Arsenal vs Napoli preview

Arsenal continue their quest for European glory on Thursday evening, when they host Serie A side Napoli at the Emirates Stadium in London for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals tie. The two sides have met in 2013 in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and each team won its home match 2-0. Arsenal have a good track record against Italian sides in European competitions, they have won 17 of their 33 matches so far and only lost two of fifteen at home. On the other hand, Napoli have only managed to win five of their fourteen matches against English teams in Europe.

Arsenal are in a heated race for a top-four finish in the Premier League, and the Europa League would provide the perfect alternative route towards next season's Champions League. Last week the Gunners lost 1-0 at Everton and dropped to fifth place in the Premier League table, but fourth-placed Tottenham are just one point ahead and they also have a game in hand on third-placed Chelsea. Sokratis Papasthatopoulos missed the last European match through suspension but now he is available again, while Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny are injury doubts. Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck remain long-term absentees for Arsenal.

Napoli can safely focus on the UEFA Europa League during the final couple of months of the season, their second place in Serie A seems more than secure at the moment and they can't hope to dethrone Juventus any more. Last week Napoli got held to a 1-1 draw at home by Genoa, but they still have a seven-point advantage over third-placed Inter in the Serie A table. Kalidou Koulibaly and Nikola Maksimovic return to the starting eleven after having missed the last European match through suspension, but Amadou Diawara and Raul Albiol are expected to miss out due to injuries. Goalkeeper David Ospina could make his return from injury to face his former club.

Probable line-ups:

Arsenal: Cech - Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis - Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac - Ramsey, Iwobi - Aubameyang

Napoli: Meret - Malcuit, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui - Callejon, Allan, Ruiz, Zielinski - Insigne, Mertens

My prediction: Arsenal to win 2-1, Napoli haven't been looking very convincing lately.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Arsenal win - 2.40
Draw - 3.50
Napoli win - 3.10

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Members Comments

  • Bulgaria sharpe


    Really good performance by Asenal in this first tie match, they've been the dominating team for the biggest part creating a lot of chances but I think it's been a decent display from Napoli too despite that it's ended so poor for them in terms of result.
    The visitors have created a few scoring opportunities themselves and probably partly because of the bad luck didn't managed to score at least one which would make their mission quite more achievable of course.

    Still have to be an exiting second leg tie despite the Gunners managed to achieve the win and that clean sheet.

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