As we reach the business end of the Europa League Arsenal host Napoli in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
With the Gunners recently losing ground in the Premier League’s race for fourth, a European title may be their only hope of clinching Champions League football next season.
However, for that to happen, Unai Emery’s side will first have to progress past Napoli, one of the Champions League’s group stage casualties, but by no means a straightforward opponent.
Under Carlo Ancelotti’s watchful eye the club have impressed in Serie A and already seen off FC Zurich and Red Bull Salzburg in this competition’s previous knockout rounds.
So, Arsenal will have to truly bring their A-game if they are to have any chance of reaching the penultimate stage of the Europa League.
Read on for Arsenal vs Napoli live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.
When is Arsenal vs Napoli?
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Date: Thursday, 11 April
Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST
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Where can I watch live?
UK residents can watch Arsenal’s game against Napoli on BT Sport 2, channel 414 on Sky and channel 528 for Virgin Media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.
Arsenal and Napoli have faced each other just twice, coming in the 2013/14 Champions League group stages, with each side enjoying a 2-0 home victory.
Arsenal wins: 1 Draws: 0 Napoli wins: 1
Having lost to Everton on Sunday, Arsenal now sit outside the top four and are in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League – though they do have a game in hand on third-placed Chelsea.
That precarious Premier League position now puts greater emphasis on this fixture with the club potentially in need of a Europa League triumph to seal a spot in the continent’s elite competition next term.
Well, if anyone can make that happen then it’s certainly Emery, who has previously lifted the trophy three times with Sevilla – all in successive seasons.
His side cantered to top spot in Group E and have since prevailed over BATE in the round-of-32 and Rennes in the last-16 respectively.
But this will be the north London club’s greatest test to date; Napoli were unlucky to finish third behind Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stages and have since had little trouble getting to the quarter-finals.
The club have made serene progress under Carlo Ancelotti since his summer appointment, and with the likes of Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik at his disposal, this will be an ominous task for Arsenal.
Will the Emirates continue to be a sanctuary for Arsenal?
Should Arsenal have any hope of making it through this stern challenge then they will need to rely on their home form.
The Gunners are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League this season – the only side not to do so – and have not fared much better in Europe, losing 1-0 away to BATE and 3-1 to Rennes in the knockout stages.
However, Emery’s side have been imperious on home soil, comprehensively beating BATE and Rennes 3-0 each at the Emirates to drag them out of those first-leg humiliations.
There appears to be a mental block when the Gunners play on the road, with their style of play almost diametrically at odds with that of their home form.
And so, given how intimidating the San Paolo Stadium can be – with Napoli only losing once in Serie A this term – Arsenal will need to make sure they pull off a major result on Thursday night, though it bodes well for Emery that the Parthenopeans’ away record is not great, winning just eight of their 15 matches on the road in the Italian top-flight.
Will Aubameyang start?
During Arsenal’s back-to-back wins against Rennes and Man Utd last month, Emery opted for a two-man attack, deploying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alongside Alexandre Lacazette.
The partnership has certainly blossomed this season with the duo working well in tandem, but Aubameyang has only been able to muster a position on the bench in the past two matches.
This has led to some criticism for Emery, with many Arsenal fans demanding his reintroduction to the starting XI, and they may get their wish when the Naples-based club travels to the capital.
The Aubameyang-Lacazette partnership worked a treat in the 3-0 thrashing of Rennes, and proved equally as effective against the Red Devils – not to mention the Gabon speedster has been in scintillating form in Europe this season.
The 29-year-old has played five games in the Europa League, scoring four goals and registering an assist. Given how poor the Gunners were at Goodison Park, Arsenal fans will likely get their wish on Thursday with Emery set to shuffle the pack.
Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka are major doubts for the match after both players missed the weekend’s defeat to Everton, while Emery is hoping Aaron Ramsey will be fit enough to start.
For Napoli they will be without Amadou Diawara and Raul Albiol, while Ancelotti was handed a massive boost after talisman Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam both returned to his squad at the weekend.
How everyone thinks Arsenal and Napoli will line up
1. Ramsey’s return
Despite Ramsey being set to leave at the end of the season, the Welshman has still played an integral role for the Gunners and could yet finish his Arsenal career on a high.
He was dropped for the defeat against Everton but has played a key part in the Gunners’ Europa League run, starting four matches, scoring once and registering an assist.
The Mohamed Elneny-Matteo Guendouzi partnership failed to cause problems against the Toffees, and with Xhaka still out, Emery will likely opt for a two-man midfield consisting of Ramsey and Guendouzi.
This will prove a much more efficient and cohesive central midfield pairing than the one that pitched up at Merseyside on Sunday. With a three-man barrier behind them, the duo will have license to create momentum further up the pitch.
Predicted Arsenal XI (3-4-1-2): Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette.
2. Ozil out, Iwobi in
Mesut Ozil has enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks after falling down the pecking order, but the German was back to his old ways against Everton at the weekend, failing to influence proceedings.
The playmaker was subsequently taken off and immediately hit headlines after throwing his coat in frustration towards the technical area.
Emery started the match with Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the wings as inside forwards, but the move backfired, and now the Evening Standard are expecting the Spaniard to reinstate Alex Iwobi to his first-team, looking to inject more pace on the bylines.
Evening Standard’s predicted Arsenal XI (3-4-1-2): Leno, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
3. All out attack for Napoli
Ancelotti certainly has no shortage of attacking options with Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Milik all to choose from, but the problem he faces is trying to fit them all into his system.
The Italian has tinkered with his tactics this season, at times deploying just a single striker through the middle, while predominantly utilising the more traditional 4-4-2 formation.
However, the Evening Standard are predicting that Ancelotti will not hold back when his side take to the Emirates pitch, giving all three attacking players a starting berth in his XI.
Fortunately for Emery, he welcomes back Sokratis after suspension in the previous round, but he will still need the rest of his defence organised and resilient to keep that attacking trident quiet.
Evening Standard’s predicted Napoli XI (4-4-2): Karnezis, Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Callejon, Allan, Fabian, Insigne, Mertens, Milik
This will not be an easy match for Arsenal, but given their solid home form, and Napoli’s not-so-impressive away form, the Gunners may just sneak this. Arsenal 1-0 Napoli.