Europa League: Arsenal vs Napoli Combined XI
Arsenal are set to face Napoli in the UEFA Europa League tonight in the first leg of the Quarter Finals. This will be a tough one to call as both sides are strong and can certainly do some damage on the attacking front. However, their defences are where they struggle, which could open the match up for lots of goals.
With that being said, just how strong could the combined XI of these two teams be? Let's take a look at the side if they were to line up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Goalkeeper - Bernd Leno
Bernd Leno signed for Arsenal from Bayer Leverkusen last summer and is set to be Petr Cech's permanent replacement. He has done a superb job for the Gunners this season and kept six clean sheets, which is all the more impressive when you consider how shaky their defence is.
Leno has had to save Arsenal time after time, showcasing his great goalkeeping skills in the process, which is why he's made the list here.
Right-Back - Elseid Hysaj
Elseid Hysaj has been solid at the back for Napoli this season, and his performances throughout the campaign have been reflected in his £10m market value increase, which now makes him worth £22.5m.
What would make him an asset in this combined XI is his ability to read the play quicker than most other players in the backline, which allows him to cut out the dangerous attacks before it's too late.
Centre-Back - Kalidou Koulibaly
This is a man who needs no introduction right now. He's constantly been a talking point over the past season or two for two reasons: being linked with top clubs across Europe and just how well he's played for Napoli in the heart of their defence. Koulibaly is consistent, strong, and surprisingly quick for a man of his stature - he is the ideal defender for this team.
Centre-Back - Shkodran Mustafi
Although his performances for Arsenal have been rather inconsistent this season, Mustafi hardly ever fails to deliver in the big matches. He appears to recognise the importance of them and steps up to face the music better than anyone else in the side.
Mustafi is an accomplished footballer in general and even won the World Cup in 2014 with Germany. He has all the credentials of being an asset to the side.
Left-Back - Faouzi Ghoulam
Although he's missed a fair few games this season through knee problems, which he recently had surgery for, whenever Ghoulam is present in the Napoli side, they perform a lot better than they usually would without him. He seems to add stability to the team, which would make him an asset in this combined XI. Ghoulam is also rapid on the ball and can track back to prevent the opposition's attack from becoming too dangerous.
Central Defensive Midfielder - Lucas Torreira
Lucas Torreira is an obvious choice for the defensive midfielder's role given just how well he's played for Arsenal this season. He has been an absolute rock in the midfield and his versatility has marked him out as a top talent in the division, thanks to his ability to switch between a central midfielder and a defender in the Sweeper role. His boundless stamina and sheer tenacity are also what make him a prime fit for this position.
Left Midfield - Lorenzo Insigne
This was an easy choice, given how Arsenal don't have a star on the left flank anymore. Alexis Sanchez would have probably been chosen before, but now that he's gone, all that the Gunners have is Alex Iwobi, who is simply not up to par. Insigne is quick, skilful, and clinical in front of goal, too - he would be the perfect fit.
Right Midfield - Simone Verdi
Simone Verdi has been fantastic for Napoli this season, showcasing his ability to push forward and contribute to the attack as well as he can play his natural role out on the right flank.
He can be utilised either as a right winger, or a plain right midfielder, and is likely to flourish in both. Arsenal don't have an out-and-out right midfielder better than Verdi, so this was an easy choice, too.
Attacking Midfielder - Mesut Ozil
In truth, this position could have easily gone to Napoli's Allan, who has been great in the No. 10 slot this season. But he simply doesn't compare to the quality that Ozil can bring to a game when he's in form.
The problem with Ozil, though, is that he's very inconsistent; he can play superbly in one match and disappear in the next. It's a gamble picking him in this side but one worth taking, given the magic touch he possesses.
Left Forward - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
There is simply no contest in choosing these strikers. Napoli's main strength is found in their midfield, while their attackers are good, but not great. Arsenal, on the other hand, have two superb goalscorers on the team sheet, Aubameyang being one of them. Raw speed, strength and agility are three of the main factors which make the Gabonese forward so deadly in front of goal.
Right Forward - Alexandre Lacazette
Like his strike partner, Aubemeyang, Lacazette has enough speed to peel away from chasing defenders with ease, and once he's in on goal, you know where the ball is going to end up. The duo have great chemistry up top and would be as deadly for this combined XI as they are for Arsenal, with Lacazette supplying Aubameyang with the goals through his assists.