For both Arsenal and Napoli, the Europa League represents the only silverware each club can pick up this season and it may well come down to which manager reads the game better as opposed to the players on the pitch.
Unai Emery and Carlo Ancelotti have both been giving their opinions on their respective opponents and each has highlighted the dangers they pose.
For Emery, he is focusing on the game tonight and is not underestimating what Napoli can do on the road.
“We are going to think in these two matches, we first think about tomorrow. We play with respect because Napoli beat Roma 4-1 away, they played against PSG and Liverpool in the Champions League away in very good matches” Emery said
“Tomorrow gives us a lot of demand to be the best we can on the pitch, and also a lot of individual duels, with individual players. Also tactically, they are a very organised team with the possibility of playing with the combinations and transitions very quickly because they have very fast players.”
For his part, Ancelotti has the utmost respect for his counterpart and when he was reminded about his last visit to the Emirates when he saw his Bayern Munich thrash the Gunners 5-1, the Italian said
‘If I say I forgot [this match] it is not true, I did not forget but each game is a different story, imagine every season different clubs, different manager so it will be a totally different story.
‘That game with Bayern is only a good memory. Unai Emery is, in my opinion, a fantastic manager with a lot of knowledge.
‘He has experience of this kind of game and the fact he is on the bench of Arsenal will be more difficult for us.’
So, it is all about respect, Emery acknowledges how organised Napoli are, and Ancelotti is wary of the experience that Emery brings to Arsenal in these sort of matches.
That leads me to believe this could be a cagey game with both managers looking to out-think each other and on the face of it you would say Ancelotti has the upper hand with his extensive experience at the top but not when it comes to the Europa League, three times winner Emery has that one sewn up and it will be interesting how each approaches this game and the tactics and tweaks they make.
This could be one game where it is the managers and their decisions at crucial moments that make all the difference.