Mikel Arteta is a match-winning midfielder for Arsenal. Image courtesy of espnfc.com
After being held to a mid-week draw by Everton, English Premier League frontrunner Arsenal is looking to return to the winners list and end Napoli’s hopes of advancing to the next stage of the UEFA Champions League. Relatively safe at the top of the Group, only a hefty loss to the Partenopei at Stadio San Paolo in Naples and an expected victory by Borussia Dortmund over bottom side Olympique Marseille would end the Gunners’ campaign in Europe.
Arsenal comfortably defeated Napoli 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in early October. For the Italians to progress, they need to at least a draw from this home encounter and hope that Borussia Dortmund is upset by Marseille, which hasn’t earned a point in five outings thus far.
The Gunners might be dominating the EPL five points clear at the top of the table, but Napoli coach Rafa Benitez has devised a simple game plan to topple the English giants. “Keep them tight, have intensity, move the ball around and close the space,” he said. Sounds logical and Napoli has the firepower, with Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain finding the net three times in five matches. However, defense is a real problem, with the Italians leaking 9 goals. As a result, 80% of their matches feature over 2.5 goals.
It’s a completely different story for Arsenal. In its last eight games in all competitions, the north London club has scored 13 goals, conceding just three as its custodians kept six cleans sheets. In a real test of its depth, Arsenal backs up against Manchester City in the EPL over the weekend.
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