Interesting to hear the two managers speak ahead of tonights fixture, neither can praise the other high enough and to be fair, if only for events so far this season, both managers deserve such praise.
Tonight is going to be the toughest test we have faced so far this season in my opinion as we face a Napoli side who defeated Borussia Dortmund just a couple of weeks ago. They will be full of confidence ahead of tonight as they sit second in the Italian League.
Again, I don’t know enough about our opposition to write much so I have stolen the views of Daily Mirror man, Sheridan Bird:
Despite the sales of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani in consecutive summers, Napoli still boast a great attack. Gonzalo Higuain is a proven goalscorer, Lorenzo Insigne is a punchy, electrifying bag of tricks and new boy Jose Callejon has instantly won fans over with his determination, goal sense and Ace Ventura hair. Then there’s Mr. Hamsik.
The team have thrived this season thanks to improved pressing and ball possession. This is to be attributed to their famous new coach, who fans of Liverpool and Chelsea will recognise.
Pepe Reina can be brilliant one minute – like last week, when he became the first person to save a Mario Balotelli penalty. But the hefty ex-Liverpool stopper can lose focus and make avoidable errors. At times he looks as mobile as Geoff Capes.
Centre-back Miguel Britos is also prone to the odd lapse. The city is locked in a Britos v Paolo Cannavaro row: some fans want to persevere with the Uruguayan, others demand the reinstatement of club captain and local boy Cannavaro to the starting XI. Rafa Benitez isn’t so keen on Canna.
The absence of raiding right-back Christian Maggio is a blow. The Italy international is recovering from a knee operation so Giandomenico Mesto steps in.
I might not know much about the way Napoli play, but like everyone else, I’ve watched Arsenal enough to know that this season, no team will put fear into our squad.
Reina has always been a hit and miss keeper, he could spill the ball at any time and our front men need to be ready to pounce if/when he does and if Britos is a vulnerable as Sheridan Bird suggests, then Giroud could make he pay dear.
Their stand-in right back needs to be tested early too, Gibbs and Wilshere could enjoy life down the left.
They have good attacking players, one of whom is Higuain, well let’s show him that he chose the wrong side to join.
We have enough in our current first team to beat any side if everything clicks on the night but we have to start a lot quicker than we have of late. We can’t afford to sit back and soak up the pressure hoping that we’ll not concede. This isn’t Stoke or Sunderland, nor is it Swansea we are facing, it’s a quality side who, if given opportunities, will punish us.
On Saturday, too many players had an average first half but they can’t afford to tonight, not if 3 points are to be won.
Napoli may have managed to draw with us in The Emirates Cup but this is the Champions League, a whole different ball game and it’s competition Arsene Wenger wants to win.
He’ll make sure we are up for tonight because if we are to get through this group and add a few more millions to the kitty, we need 3 massive points….
It’s Rafa v Arsene, Giroud v Higuain on the striker front and it’s Arsenal v Napoli, it should be a cracking game but it has to be our night!
That’s it for another day…