It was a spectacular night at the Emirates yesterday evening as Arsenal beat Napoli 2 goals to nil. Our pressing last night was immense, but we still caught ourselves conceding chances in which Napoli fortunately failed to convert. My man of the match was Lucas Torreira, who played his first game since our round of 16 tie against Rennes.
Arsenal will surely be celebrating what was an excellent win. For the first 30 minutes of the game, the game was completely one sided for us. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring after some wonderful link up play. Lucas Torreira later scored our second, where he stole the ball and dribbled a couple yards before shooting a ball that was deflected off Koulibaly. The goal was counted as an own goal but I really can’t see how it is because the ball wasn’t re directed.
It would’ve been better if we scored more than 2 goals, but we just couldn’t seem to put the ball past Meret who had an excellent second half and making some saves that could’ve saved Napoli the tie. We all can agree that it was a great performance by the team yesterday, but there is still a huge away leg to play. Going into this second leg, I am confident but also nervous. Our away form in the Europa League or just this season in general is poor, and I don’t need to keep reminding you.
In the second half, we were getting caught on Napoli’s long balls. Most were offside, but the one that really startled me was when Insigne put a ball over the top for Mertens, who just nearly missed a heading opportunity. The high pressing worked very well at the Emirates, but I don’t think it’ll work over in Italy. I am by no means saying we should park the bus, but I think we should push our midfield and defensive line back a nudge, just so Napoli can’t but those balls in over the top.
There wasn’t really any player that stood out as poor last night, but it’s really important we ride this form into Italy. We have a game 3 days before against Watford, so I don’t see us starting a ton of first team players and risking injuries. After this win and seeing that it’s extremely possible to win this tournament, I won’t really have a problem if we don’t start a lot of first team players next Monday.
It’s another huge game next Thursday, and we have to be a cohesive unit all around. I think we’ll go through to the semi finals, but sadly I don’t see us winning this game. I’m going for a 1-0 loss. Its not that I’m negative, it’s just that I’m not sold on the fact that we can turn around our away form for just one game.