17th of April 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
Napoli have a mountain to climb on Thursday evening when they host Arsenal at San Paolo Stadium in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals tie. The Gunners pulled off a 2-0 victory in the first leg last week, Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring and then Kalidou Koulibaly put one past his own goalkeeper. That was the third consecutive 2-0 result between these two teams, the previous two meetings happened in 2013 in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and each team won its home match 2-0. Arsenal have a solid track record against Italian sides in European competitions, they have won 18 of their 34 matches so far, while Napoli have only managed to win five of their fifteen matches against English teams in Europe.
Everything seems to be slipping away from Napoli this season, the Serie A title is gone, they got knocked out of the Italian Cup, and now they are dangerously close to getting eliminated from the Europa League as well. They recovered from the first-leg defeat with a 3-1 Serie A victory at Chievo last weekend, but that result doesn't help them in any way. The last time Napoli reached the semi-finals of an European competition was in 2015, when they suffered a surprising defeat against Ukrainian side Dnipro. Raul Albiol and Amadou Diawara remain sidelined for the home side.
Arsenal are looking for European glory this season, their last triumph was in the 1994 Cup Winners' Cup and last season they got stopped in the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League. On Monday the Gunners grabbed a 1-0 victory at Watford in the Premier League and that result puts them back up in fourth place in the league table, tied on 66 points with London rivals Chelsea but with a game in hand. Granit Xhaka returned from injury in Monday's match while Alexandre Lacazette was on the bench after having recovered from his own fitness issues. Lucas Torreira picked up a groin injury against Watford and will most likely sit this one out.
Napoli: Meret - Malcuit, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui - Callejon, Allan, Ruiz, Zielinski - Insigne, Milik
Arsenal: Cech - Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal - Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Kolasinac - Ramsey, Mkhitaryan - Lacazette
My prediction: Napoli to win 2-1, the Italians will capitalize on the home turf advantage but Arsenal should be able to hold on to their first-leg advantage.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Napoli win - 1.70
Draw - 4.33
Arsenal win - 4.75
11th of April 2019
7th of November 2018
It's been a really good performance from the Gunners in the first leg game but the visitors Napoli had a couple of great scoring opportunities themselves.
Saying all that I think it would be an open game again probably even more than the first one because of the Napoli deficit so my prediction will be for quite a high scoring game 3-2 to the home side.
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