Arsenal and Napoli: it is going to be very close in the Europa League

By Tony Attwood

Following Arsenal from the far side of the world (Sydney, Australia to be precise) is something of an odd affair.   The games don’t appear to be shown live (at least not in the bars that I can find) and anyway does one really want to follow football in the middle of the night while actually trying to enjoy a holiday and visit the family?

So one is left returning to the internet to pick up the details from the news sites.   And in doing this I find that few commentators have taken up the theme Untold has been developing in the last couple of years – that the best predictor of how a club will do in their next game is to look at the home and away form of each club.

As we have seen this is not at all a prefect predictor, but it is at the very least as good as any, and in fact much of the time gives a better prediction of what might happen.

But beyond that, it also gives a real insight into the sort of players each club might like to seek out in the next transfer window, unwrapping as it does various connundrums.   And the key point is that it challenges the whole concept of “he’s a rubbish defender – get rid of him now” based on one performance – because clearly the teams we put out at home, are effective and do very well.

This sort of analysis can also give indicators for the future poition of teams in the league.  For example, if we compare the home and away form of the top clubs we find this (at least at the moment I am writing this piece)…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 16 15 0 1 53 12 41 45
2 Liverpool 15 13 2 0 44 9 35 41
3 Arsenal 16 13 2 1 37 12 25 41
4 Chelsea 15 9 5 1 29 10 19 32
5 Manchester United 14 8 5 1 28 18 10 29
6 Tottenham Hotspur 14 9 1 4 25 13 12 28

Tottenham and Manchester United have five home games left to play – more than the other teams in the top six positions.  And yet  both teams have poor home form this season that could see those games become a disadvantage rather than an advantage as is traditionally seen to be the case.

Tottenham’s power has come in away games where they are the most successful team this team.  Arsenal are however far from successful, and they would need to win both their away games in hand away from home, in order simply to creep into the top six of the away games table.

Away games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 16 11 0 5 32 19 13 33
2 Liverpool 15 9 5 1 24 8 16 32
3 Manchester City 14 9 2 3 26 9 17 29
4 Manchester United 16 9 2 5 30 22 8 29
5 Chelsea 14 8 1 5 21 21 0 25
6 Leicester City 16 6 3 7 21 24 -3 21
7 Crystal Palace 15 6 2 7 25 24 1 20
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 5 5 5 16 17 -1 20
9 Watford 16 5 5 6 23 25 -2 20
10 Arsenal 14 5 4 5 26 27 -1 19

We have also seen Arsenal’s strength at home and lack of form away from home in the Europa League this season – not least in the most recent games where the away defeat was heralded in the press as a sign of Arsenal’s hopelessness and weakness, and the need to rebuild the team, while the home win that secured the tie was a sign of Arsenal’s strength and ability.

But if we look forward to the next round of the Europa we can then use this “home and away” approach to get a clearer insight into how things might go…

Overall Napoli are second in the Italian League in terms of the full league table, and again in terms of both the tables that take into account home and away games only.

At home it is 10 wins – 3 draws – 1 defeat (compared to Arsenal’s 13 wins – 2 draws -1 defeat).

Away it is 7  wins – 3 draws  – 3 defeats (compared to Arsenal’s 5 wins -4 draws – defeats).

But we can also notice something else from the complete league table…

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Juventus 27 24 3 0 59 17 42 75
2 Napoli 27 17 6 4 48 21 27 57
3 AC Milan 27 14 9 4 41 23 18 51
4 Inter Milan 27 15 5 7 40 22 18 50
5 Roma 28 13 8 7 52 39 13 47
6 Atlanta 27 13 5 9 56 38 18 44

The league title was won before the season began, just as it was last season, the season before, the season before… and so on.   Napoli are the best of the rest but even so have lost four games all told and having won only one of the last five.

Looked at this way, the early prediction must be that Arsenal and Napoli will win their home ties so goal difference will decide the tie.  Arsenal’s goals this season are 63 scored – 39 conceded from 30 games.  2.1 scored, 1.3 conceded per game.

Napoli’s goals are 48 scored, 21 conceded from 27 games.  1.8 scored, 0.8 conceded per game.

Overall, Napoli get a fractionally better goal ratio in each league game than Arsenal do, by just 0.2 goals per game.   But we might also remember that the Italian league is far weaker in depth than the Premier League.

Pulling it all together we might expect Napoli and Arsenal each to win their home tie and for the difference overall to be as little as one goal.   It is certainly unlikely to be a clear cut victory for either side and a single away goal could decide the whole affair.

28 Replies to “Arsenal and Napoli: it is going to be very close in the Europa League”

  1. Sorry to go straight off topic but we really are in trouble with VAR if it sees fit to overturn Victor Lindelöf’s Red card.

    This is from the Mail on Sunday on line:

    VAR made the right call to reverse Victor Lindelof’s red card…

    a) The player was in control and technology prevails

    I ask: How are you in control in a slide?

    b) The VAR system was used to analyse a red card awarded to Victor Lindelof

    c) Lindelof appeared to slide through Wolves striker Diogo Jota at Molineux.

    I ask: “Appeared to slide” NO he did slide !

    d) Referee Martin Atkinson at first look believed the player was out of control.

    Isay: As much as I dislike Atkinson he was spot on. There was absolutely no way Lindelof was in control. If you are sliding, or in a ‘skid’ for want of a better word, how the f*** are you in control. You cant pull out. You cannot avoid going through the player.

    e) VAR correctly deemed the tackle was merely reckless, and was due a yellow.

    MERELY reckless ! WTF ?

    To me it was:

    -Pre meditated. (If he didn’tget the ball he sure as hellwas going to get the man.)


    -Out of control. (He wassliding FFS)

    -Wreckless. (He knew exactly what he was doing)

    -And it certainly endangered the players well being.(It was so bad that it was one of those that makes you instinctively draw breath and look away.)

    The bottom line is it was a terrible challenge.

    As I, and others have said on here many times, VAR is simply going to be used to reinforce the bias that already exists.

    How was Lindelofs tackle in anymore ‘control’ than Lucas Torreira’s tackle against spurs, and that was looked at again and deemed worthy of a red card.

    I may be wrong, and the Untold lads may put me right, but if that wasn’t a red card challange then we really are in trouble.

  2. By the way, thanks for taking time out to put an article up for us Tony.

    Just like to say I hope you are having a great time.

  3. to add to Nitram’s comments that is the second time in a manchs cheatster match VAR has been used when there has not been a clear and obvious mistake by the ref. The handball at Paris S.G. was not a clear mistake, the red card yesterday was not a mistake. It raises serious questions about the neutrality of the unknown persons in control. Thankfully we do not have VAR unless we reach the final of the Europa Thimble which may give us time to save money for any bribe required by the unseen man of mystery who overrules the official on the pitch at critical moments. That said I bet Swansea would have welcomed VAR. A dodgy falling over by Raheem floor polisher Sterling and an offside goal from Aguero decided the tie, both could be called clear and obvious errors but thankfully for the incompetent gentleman in black it was not in use.

  4. Laos gooner

    “…….there has not been a clear and obvious mistake by the ref”

    Thanks for reminding me. I forgot to even mention that and that is indeed a massive part of why this is so worrying.

    Because when Torreira’s red card was up for appeal I knew it would fail.

    Not because it was Arsenal but because it was not ‘a clear and obvious mistake’, although being as it was us added to my certainty.

    But the point is, even though I think it was a little harsh as he went for the ball (no excuse in itself though), got the ball (no excuse in itself though), and was unlucky the way his studs ended up ‘high’ because of the way his foot rolled over the ball(a possible excuse).

    But I can see why a red was given, and it was not ‘a clear and obvious mistake’.

    As for yesterdays Lindelof’s red card, even if you some how think it wasn’t a red card there is absolutely no way it can be called ‘a clear and obvious mistake’.

    Really really worrying that a decision like that can be turned over.

    God help Arsenal when it does come in.

  5. One last thing.

    If it was a clear and obvious mistake why did it take a dozen replays to make the decision.

    Surely by it’s nature ‘clear and obvious’ should take just a quick look because it’s, well…….’clear and obvious’.

    This, clearly and obviously wasn’t ‘clear and obvious’ if you see what I mean.

  6. @ Nitram
    What worries me with the Lindelofs challenge yesterday was that I thought it looked terrible in slow-mo and not much better in real time and if you are now allowed to go through the man to get the ball we’re in trouble because it’s too selective .
    Last night Keown didn’t think it was a sending off , then when it went to VAR he changed his mind because of the slow-mo replay , then agreed with VAR when the decision was changed to a yellow card , refereeing is now in more trouble than it was before

  7. To rephrase Nitram’s statement.

    If you are driving on a low friction surface (like ice or mud) and your tires start to skid, you have “gone ballistic”. Your path is more or less determined by the laws of ballistics and whatever objects you happen to collide with.

    To slide on the ground is a similar situation. It is only similar, in that the person voluntarily gave up the ability to control their path.

    Is it only reckless to go into a situation in which you will likely collide with someone at speed, and no control over your path?

  8. I believe as all you do VAR is just going to be used to confirm bias – makes the “respect” campaigns a complete farce doesn’t it!!!

    I have very little hope for its use in either UEFA or EPL games. I watch La Liga and Bundesliga. The best system I have seen so far has been La Liga – they are quick and correct!!!

    Keown is another of the blinkered idiots of the game – we have lots of them

  9. Steve Vallins

    “…..if you are now allowed to go through the man to get the ball we’re in trouble because it’s too selective.”

    Agree 100%


    “Is it only reckless to go into a situation in which you will likely collide with someone at speed, and no control over your path?”

    As you are intimating, no of course it isn’t ONLY reckless, it is clearly ‘out of control’.

    Les Williams

    “Keown is another of the blinkered idiots of the game”


    I was embarrased listening to him last night. You could tell the commentator really didn’t agree with him at all but was effectively put in a position where he either had a row with Keown, or tactfully back down. He chose the latter.

    Tragicly and unbelievably his views were backed up by VAR, and now ex referee Chris Foy this morning.

    Quite simply I cant believe what I’m hearing from these so called ‘proffesionals’.


  10. OT: Humour

    In the news, is a story about a game in Adelaide being held up, because there was a snake on the field.

    Said snake was neither a politician or official, it was a brown snake.

    I guess it took about 8 minutes to remove the snake.

  11. On Arsenal and Napoli, i agree with you Tony. I want to add that it’s not going to be a high scoring encounter hence defensive awareness need to be high. In some of their matches in their league, Napoli don’t score early, I hope this will work to Arsenal’s advantage. All English final awaits… Good luck to the Arsenal.
    Gunners for life! Better days ahead…

  12. Tony,
    Hope you’re enjoying Australia. Absolutely lovely place.

    Re AFC v Napoli , on current form Arsenal seem a good bet. The tie should be tightly contested. The team has acquired a bit of defensive nous (Mustafi aside) and I can see Arsenal progressing on away goals. If AFC progress to and win the Europa League they qualify for next season’s CL competition. Ironically, if they win the Europa competition and (as is very likely) finish in the top 4 places in the EPL the automatic bid will go to one of the sodden bastards we’re battling with now, I believe. I suppose it’s a nice ‘problem’ to have. As it says on the badge….”Forward”!

    As you have pointed out numerous times in these pages, referee bias is obvious, ‘control’ from on high is obvious and the Cheaters have their favs. Anyone recall those darlings of Leicester City a few seasons ago? One-dimensional Vardy dove his way to 10 PK’s that season FFS. We accept the bias is real. It persists because of the ‘hiding in plain sight’ reason Untold has pointed out for years; LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. Unless this changes everything remains the same. The FA, the PGMO, EPL and their tools in the Media are all corrupt. Somehow, someway the beautiful game needs to wrested from their greasy grip. I can’t write anymore, the blood pressure medication beckons. COYG!

  13. Drat, Liverpool won. Milner converts a penalty in the 81 minute. Congratulations Craig Pawson on the win!

    Game is nearly over, and Everton leading Chel$ea. Giroud was recently subbed on. Please don’t score Giroud! 🙂

  14. Ospina suffered a head injury in Napoli’s game today, and has been taken to hospital.

    I hope he’s okay.

  15. The one tackle that has not been mentioned is the studs on to Lenos midriff. It was a red card offence but was ignored by all and sundry after the official gave a yellow.

  16. Lindelof’s tackle was horrible. I think his sliding knee took out the Wolves’ player’s standing leg AND because it was his knee and attached leg that took him out, the player did a complete flip

  17. I hope someone in the press notices the writhing, flipping, contortionist-like dive that the Mane perpetrated against Fulham, today.

  18. GoingGoingGooner @10:14pm

    Not going to happen. I refer you to the last paragraph of my post on this thread @3:56pm.

  19. Hmmm. Okay. In as much as the overall result of the 2 legged Europa League Cup quarterfinal match that will decide the fates of Arsenal or Napoli to further participate in this season’s Europa League Cup competition could look on paper too close to call. But notwithstanding and be it as it may be, let us Gooners not entertain any doubts in our minds as to whether Arsenal will knock out Napoli or not over the course of playing the 2 legged quarterfinal match that’ll take place soon between the duo club sides. For, definitely, Arsenal will knock out Napoli. And this my claim is not just a claim for the sake of it because of my having a great passion for Arsenal. But it’s a true claim by me that has bone out of my instincts as I’ve said in one of my comment posting before that, my instincts have instinctively informed me that Arsenal will beat Napoli 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium during the 1st leg match of the 2 legged match tie to take control of the tie and be in control of the 2 legged quarterfinal match. And therefore be in unassailable position in terms of the number of goals scored over the course of playing at home and away by both clubs. Therefore for Napoli, this unassailability in aggregate number of goals scored that will be to the favour of Arsenal absolutely will consequently see Napoli get knocked out from the competition this season.

  20. I don’t know anything about about a Mane dive. It is suspicious that Liverpool was handed the win by a penalty.

    That there is an explanation for how the PGMO gave the win to Liverpool!!!!!!!!!! is wonderful.

  21. I guess that it is the various directors’ mandate to squeeze out the drama till finally the fat lady sings. It would be boring for all if the EPL was decided all too early. Or became all too predictable.

    A few ‘unexpected’ twists and turns will always ensure that the spotlight be on the EPL -the greatest football league in the world .

    Liverpool appearing to getting caught up with at the home straight by City ; with Chelsea and Man. Utd losing ground and steam , and Arsenal with another mini revivals .

    And Spurs . Well Spurs will always be Spurs.And probably will implode this season as well . And the Arsenal fans may yet get to sing about them , that it happened again ! Have missed it the last two years !

    And the Wolves . Probably everyone’s second team ,especially when it be may hoped to be rewarded by a favour from them if they beat a direct opponent .

  22. @Brickfield

    Sorry, mate, but Wolves are not my second team as long as they are Jorge Mendes FC.

    But I did enjoy their beatings of Spuds, Chavs and Scums.

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