Napoli 0-1 Arsenal: 5 Talking Points, Europa League 2018/19
Arsenal overcame a stern test against Italian giants Napoli after securing a comfortable 3-0 aggregate win. The Gunners will face Valencia in the semi finals of the Europa League as Unai Emery looks to win his first trophy for his new club.
Napoli started the game with great vigour as Carlo Ancelotti's side looked to reduce a two goal deficit from the first leg. A flurry of chances were missed by Arkadiusz Milik, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne as the Italians failed to get the all important early goal. Problems compounded for the hosts afrer Alexandre Lacazette's beautiful free kick found the back of the net on 36 minutes.
The goal provided Arsenal a much needed three goal cushion and the Gunners grew in confidence in the second half. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a glorious opportunity to double Arsenal's lead on the night after he saw his close range effort excellently thwarted by Alex Meret. Despite having major share of possession, Napoli could not find the equaliser as Arsenal defended valiantly in a 1-0 victory.
Without wasting any time, let us take a look at the talking points from the clash in Naples.
#5 Emery gets his tactics right as Arsenal secure second consecutive away win
Arsenal secured a semi final spot in Emery's first season in charge after overcoming a tricky opposition in Napoli. Over the two legs, Emery tactically outsmarted Ancelotti, as the Italian side drew blanks in both legs, in response to Arsenal's three goals.
Emery started with a back three of Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis and Nacho Monreal, who were shielded by a midfield duo of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira. This formation provided Arsenal the perfect balance between attack and defence, as the Gunners snuffed out danger in the form of Napoli's counters.
The midfield duo of Xhaka and Torreira got going from kick-off and did not allow Napoli to play their intricate brand of football. Torreira continuously pressed the likes of Allan and Insigne, as Napoli's midfield and forwards were denied enough time in possession.
Xhaka, on the other hand acted as the link between attack and defence, executing his task to perfection as his passing ability and vital tackles helped Arsenal carry out their transitions to perfection.
Speaking of the defence, the back three centre-backs marshalled Napoli's front three of Milik, Callejon and Insigne. The defensive contributions of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac helped the back three double up on Napoli's forwards as Arsenal secure a well earned clean sheet and progress to the semi-finals.