Arsenal team news: Mesut Ozil to miss out? Predicted Gunners line-up for crucial Europa League clash at home to Napoli
Arsenal will be keen to bounce back from their weekend slump at Everton as they welcome Napoli to the Emirates Stadium in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
The Gunners were sloppy against the Toffees as they went down to a 1-0 defeat – putting a dent in their hopes of finishing in the top four.
However, winning the Europa League is another route into next season’s Champions League and given Unai Emery’s aptitude for this competition (winning it three years running at Sevilla 2014-16), Arsenal will certainly be taking this game very seriously.
But in order to reach the semi-finals, they must beat one of the favourites to win the competition in Napoli, who very nearly made it out of their Champions League group where they were pitted against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.
Emery is aware of the danger Napoli possess with world-class players including Manchester United target Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set for a recall to the Arsenal starting XI having only been on the bench for his side’s last two matches after being ill with a virus.
He looks set to join Alexandre Lacazette in attack while Mesut Ozil could miss out again with Aaron Ramsey set to return.
Juventus-bound Ramsey was only fit enough to play the second-half of their defeat at Goodison Park due to a groin problem.
Laurent Koscielny (foot) and Granit Xhaka (groin) face late fitness tests having not featured at the weekend.
So how might Arsenal line up for their first match against the Serie A giants? Below you can see talkSPORT.com’s predicted XI.
A 3-4-1-2 formation could be the tactics Emery goes for as he looks to go for the win but also have plenty of defenders back for Napoli’s dangerous attack.
Petr Cech starts in goal as he’s Arsenal’s cup keeper and he may well be joined by a defensive three of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Kosicleny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Meanwhile, wing-backs Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac will be able to support the defenders when the visitors are on the ball but will also give Arsenal width going forward.
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The Gunners missed Granit Xhaka’s passing at Everton so if he’s fit enough, he is likely to play and Lucas Torreira is in contention to make a timely return in what is arguably Arsenal’s biggest game of the season so far.
Aaron Ramsey has performed well this season so will surely play and Emery could be tempted to play both Aubameyang and Lacazette as the two forwards work well together.
This means the inconsistent Mesut Ozil may miss out as defensive duties will be a requirement in this match and the No.10 just cannot be relied on to do that.
Source: SportsLatest TS