Europa League: Four conclusions as Arsenal knock out Napoli
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Arsenal are through to the semi-finals of the Europa League after a goal by Alexandre Lacazette gave them the lead. It turned out to be the only goal of the game, making the aggregate 3-0 to the Gunners. It was a nervy encounter in a very hostile atmosphere, but Arsenal rose to the occasion and came out with flying colors, indeed.
This was arguably Arsenal's most disciplined away game in recent years. There was no sign of frustration in any players, and the away side was happy to defend deep in their own half. It was a robust performance from Monreal, Sokratis, and Koscielny at the back, with Niles and Kolasinac doing their duties to perfection as well, which eventually led to Carlo Ancelotti's men crashing out of Europe.
Arsenal avoided a potential banana skin as they put in a 10/10 team performance tonight, something the Gunners were unable to replicate against BATE Borisov and Rennes, away from home. Unai Emery fielded his best starting eleven and had one intention since the whistle, to score that vital away goal. Eventually, Emery's men got it through Lacazette's brilliance and the game seemed to cease for Napoli then and there itself.
Here are the four conclusions we learned from the game:
#4 Kolasinac and Niles putting in the defensive shift
Often criticized for not putting in the extra shift while playing away from home, both Kolasinac and Maitland Niles made sure they kept their critics silent as they were everywhere on the pitch, creating chances, dropping deep, recovering the ball, making tackles, and what not.
Arsenal's fullbacks heavily impacted the game as they gave utmost support to the back three when it came to defending crosses or counter attacks. Kolasinac restricted himself from going forward, something he always looks to do, and the Bosnian player obeyed his gaffers instructions to perfection.
Niles, on the other hand, though looked a bit weak at times, played a key part when Arsenal tried to break on counters and even tracked back to help out Sokratis. The 19-year-old played a decent role and certainly helped his team get the win.