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July 2021

See Naples and die. Although preferably not today.

Dominic Sanchez-Cabello

Until Gervinho masterminded a glorious Roma win yesterday evening, it was an intercontinental top of the table clash. I guess it still is. They have a point more than us in Serie A and we match them in the group of DEATH (hence the phrase “See Naples…”

Again we come across a Champions League team playing 4-2-3-1. Isn’t that a surprise! It’s fast becoming the default Champion’s league formation (perhaps just the default formation), although the Naples management claim they use all sorts of different formats.

It seems rare for a match preview to pass these days without mentioning Flamini. Today is no different. Last time he played Napoli he scored a cracker and was then sent off for a two footed slide tackle – as two footed lunges go it was remarkably clean, but that rarely matters!

Being fluent in Italian puts him in a fantastic position to wreak mischief. And his time in Milan will have instilled in him a tactical astuteness, which gives him resilience in cagey stalemates – the sort that punctuate Serie A.

I’d be very surprised if tonight was an enjoyable game. In fact, I can see it being nothing but a tiresome exchange: They won’t want the ball; Inler and Behrami (the Switzers) will feel edgy when leaving their own half; and the front four will only look to counter.

I imagine Higuain will be frustrated by Koscielny as his game relies so heavily on pace, when he plays a defender who is faster than him, he is blunted, somewhat. Hamsik could be Flaminised, leaving Callejon and Insigne to contend with Gibbs and Sagna.

I never understood why Benitez left Italy. He seems perfect for the place.

On a different note, Atletico Madrid are becoming my nightmare team. They are the team Napoli want to be and should we have the misfortune of playing them you will see what I mean. Combative, compact, technically excellent and a team of scoundrels… managed by a scoundrel! They dominated the Bernabeu on Saturday night, solving everything Real threw their way. Diego Costa had a row with Pepe, which struck me as funny. A bit like a scoundrel criticising a knave for being a shyster.

Anyway, it isn’t an away match, so I can’t guarantee we’ll win… but I have an odd feeling Pepe Reina will blunder at his near post – seems to do that an awful lot against us…

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Here’s one for you all: suppose someone was “just a shit Michael Owen” – what would they do/ who would they be?!

Doesn’t bear thinking about does it…

P.S. The team will resemble the one that won in Swansea. Rosicky might replace Gnabry, as his experience and energy lends itself better to a fixture like this. Aside from that, no real news – Cazorla is back for the weekend!

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35 comments to See Naples and die. Although preferably not today.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have in my mind 3 positions that I would consider a change.
    As you say Rosicky in for Gnabry (more experience – Serge might be exhausted as he played 5 games in merely 18 days and one game of 120 mins)

    But I would also consider Monreal for Gibbs. Not because Gibbs has put a foot wrong but we have to be a bit careful as Gibbs had the tendency to get injured when he played a lot of games.

    And Arteta/Flamini is also a position that I could doubt. Flamini his knowledge of the Italian teams and Naples might be great to have to but could also be a downfall. As you mentioned he got send off last time he played them and maybe they could try to get him send off again. And the refs in the CL are stricter than in the PL. Arteta usually uses his head more and is more save in such conditions.

    But either way I can understand each and every way of thinking as the coin really has two sides.

    And Santi back for the weekend would we awesome.

  • Tasos

    Napoli, like Arsenal, have a very good record on the road. Winning all three games at Genoa, Milan and Chievo in Serie A this current season.

    With respect to Linz and our other Spud lovers, Napoli will represent our toughest opponents yet this season, and by some way.

  • botafoguense

    Agreed this will be our biggest challenge so far this season. Just a note on Atletico – a team that I’ve come to really enjoy watching while living in Spain, mostly due to them upsetting the whole balance of power/Real-Barça obsession. As much as I’d love to see that game happen, the idea of facing them in the knockout rounds scares the shit out of me. They systematically neutralised Real and only just missed out on making the game 3-0. Kinda reminds me of how some well organised teams having completely stumped Arsenal in the past. Will just have to wait and see!

  • colario

    Tasos. I am inclined to agree with you this will be our toughest match so far. I am sure I quote ‘The Frenchman who is clueless about tactics’ end of quote, will get it all wrong whatever he does according to the experts on football and who can kick a ball better than arry’s wife.

    Seriously I can’t wait for the match to start. Its going to be a cracker, Benitez ‘the Unwanted’ (by Chelski) and Arsene ‘the tactless wonder’ (according to the AAA).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It will probably a tight ,tactical game but I hope we win this without any injuries , please . 2-0 for me .
    Up the Gunners !

  • Gf60

    “just a shit Michael Owen” – what would they do/ who would they be?!” Well Stewart Robson must be in the running? Tony Gayle not far behind.

    Really looking forward to tonight’s game. Our first real test.

  • Florian

    OH YES! 1-0 to Arsenal! What a goal from Ozil!

  • Florian

    Well, unless Napoli played a very weird handicap tactic, I don’t see how we could possibly die, from 2-0 up! And what a finish from Giroud!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Two truly great goals. Ozil’s one of the best I’ve seen – unstoppable! If we take care in the second half game is ours! COYG

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Pretty much played in 2nd gear in the second half and still had chances to add to our tally. Napoli was truly dire.

  • Sammy The Snake

    I trust everyone enjoyed the “Ramsey-Ozil show”. Every player was absolutely superb, but just one question: How many Ramseys played tonight? There seemed to be one in the left, one in the middle, one in attach & one defending! The boy is absolutely amazing. Go Gunners!

  • Yassin

    Just why cant the english refs do such a job, look how we controlled the game.

    Do i see the brilliant Team of 2003-2004 playing tonight.

    Ramsey again my MOTM
    And every pundit and every one who talked on stupid shows that Ramsey is not an Arsenal class should apologize to him and to Wenger and admit he could habe destroyed a brilliant player if Wenger listened to their stupidity

  • Yassin

    And I almost forgot, brilliant crowd, now today u maid us proud, all of you, crowd, player, coaches,….. Even the tea lady who is the grandmother of one of our fellow untolder, sorry dont remember his name 😛

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    A truly professional second half performance, never allowed Napoli any time to get themselves set and no clear sight of goal, with a little luck we could have had a couple more as well. Great performance and good being able to enjoy it in a relaxed manner. Never in doubt today. Well done the Arsenal!

  • Yassin

    Yes and who said Wenger can not do tactics?

    And is Napoles a weak team now?

    And is Arsenal a not top 4?

  • That was a great game of football! I think our best game of the season so far. Wow! The understanding between the guys and the flow of passes was at times just plain ridiculous. I LOVE IT!!!

    All I’ve been hearing though is how poor Napoli were. You know, just like Fenerbahce and every other team that we have dominated and beaten. Arsenal, it seems can never get any credit for being great; we always play well and get good results only because our oppositions are weak, even though, we always get told that they were great before we beat them.

    I am waiting for those who said Swansea is our litmus test for the season to come out and hail us as potential winners now that we have crossed their imposed hurdle. I won’t hold my breath though.

    To all patient Gooners world wide, I say congratulations! When I wrote during pre-season that we’ll do well this season, it was on faith based on our track record from last season and the fact that we kept the core of our team. I still don’t know how the season will pan out but I really fancy our chances and I am absolutely thrilled with where we currently are.

    Keep the faith!

  • rantetta


  • GoingGoingGooner,

    Rather than describe Napoli as dire, I prefer to describe our boys as just wonderful. I watched Barcelona Simultaneously against Celtic and lord have mercy, were they poor? They ultimately beat 10 man Celtic 1-0 but if they had played like we did and got the result that we did against a team like Napoli, not many would be calling Napoli dire; they’ll be calling Barcelona great.

    Arsenal played great football today!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    i also had a good feeling at the end of last season and think that in terms of footballing ability we are as good as anyone now. Long may it continue. Now is a good time to be a Gooner and we all need to enjoy these moments, it is after all what it is about taking pleasure in a great performance by the Arsenal who never allowed Napoli to get going they weren’t poor – we were great!

  • AL

    Fantastic! I’m afraid we are running out of superlatives to describe this team.
    Ozil, what can I say, what a game he had, big players shine on the big stage. And the rest of the team were just as terrific, can’t pick one person. Well done Arsenal.

  • Strus

    That was glorious display of the mighty Arsenal. Napoli was not existent. Long may it continue!

  • AL

    I disagree Napoli were bad, they just met a side that was on top of its game, and were made to look ordinary. Remember, this is the form team in Italy….

  • WalterBroeckx

    The first post match article is up now. So I have reserved my comments on the game for that article 😉

  • Yassin,

    The tea lady is Nicky’s granny 🙂

    I agree with your comparison of this team to the 2003/4 season. The movement and understanding is just mind blowing.

  • Yassin

    Sczezney might leave at the end of season cause he is not having playing time 😛
    He blame Wenger for playing him out of position, he is GK for god sake, all he does is throwing the ball back from goal kicks.
    I guess he enjoys those passes with the defenses, but I don’t!

  • AL,

    Your comment of 10.04pm needs some editing. I think you meant: “I disagree Napoli were NOT bad….” 🙂

  • Yassin

    @ Bootoomee

    Yeh yeh i remember now, sorry Nicky.

    And not only movement and understanding, but also the spirit and how they decide their own game. Still when the injured are back, we might win the world cup in Brazil, dont know how and dont care, we are awesome, we are the Arsenal.

    Yeh yeh and almost forgot we have Rambo

  • elkieno

    Err now, now come on people don’t you know that it was Piers Morgan who we should be thanking for his putting a fire up Arsenal.
    What a wanker…

    Anyway wat a goal from Ozil and the ref was fair too. Really happy Giroud got one too, confidence boosting if it iindeed needed it.

    So who next then?
    WBA away?

  • Mick

    Now I know why it is called the beautiful game. The first half was out of this world. How are we going to accommodate Cazorla, Walcott, Ox, Podolski, Diaby etc etc?

  • Gord

    A couple of newspapers are running a story about a shop near the Emirates (Piebury Corner?) having been attacked by some Napoli thugs before game time. Windows broken, a few people slightly injured.

    I hope nobody from Untold got caught up in this.

    It’s too bad it happened in the first place.

  • Rufusstan

    @Gord, there was a comment from a guy on the Arseblog boards who was there and had to help with the initial first aid, sounded nasty. Local news covered it as well.

    Seems to be a bit of unprovoked thuggery. Hope they catch whoever did it and even shame Napoli into helping.

    Personally, time for me is so tight at midweek games that I never get near the Holloway road, (and Drayton Park is open which makes travel so much easier).

  • Gord

    I gather two people went to hospital. One person received half a dozen stiches after being hit with a cast iron chair. I’ve no idea on the other injury.

    I think Napoli should pay for damages to the shop.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also heard the news about the attack on Piebury Corner. FFS surely those days are over? This is so disappointing to hear such things.
    I sing for my team, I support my players and manager, I shout till I can’t speak no more. But I never can understand the need to attack other fans or let alone shops or restaurants. In a way that is just criminal behaviour and I hope that the police can arrest the c*nts responsible for this coward attack.

  • blacksheep63

    I can report that Tony and I avoided any trouble at Piebury Corner, although in other news I now have no voice left after singing all night! 🙂