Arsenal outclassed Napoli in their quarter-final first leg with a comfortable win at home, with Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Lucas Torreira shining.
First half goals from Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira settled the first-leg quarter-final clash between Arsenal and Napoli in London. Those two goals have given Arsenal some serious advantage over their Italian counterparts heading into the next leg to be played in Naples.
The Gunners displayed total dominance in the first half, while in the second half, with a two-goal cushion, somewhat started absorbing Napoli’s pressure. It was also in this period that they created some of the best chances in the game, although their failure to score from them was baffling. Unai Emery will be hoping those missed chances do not come to haunt his side in Italy.
In the end, Arsenal can feel they are in the driving seat, although like most fans, the manager will take the next leg quite seriously owing to his side’s dismal away form. Additionally, the Gunners will have to face Watford away from home before travelling to Naples for the next leg. For now, Arsenal can be satisfied with what they have achieved, and the Europa League progression is well on track.
Here’s how Arsenal players fared in their 2-0 win over Napoli in London.
Petr Cech: 6.5/10
Was a spectator for most of the night. Apart from pushing an off-target Kalidou Koulibaly effort and making a few routine stops, he would be thankful to Napoli’s attackers for sending most of their shots well over. His distribution was visibly improved, while his command was excellent in his area.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 7/10
Defended the right side of defence well, replacing Mustafi. Keeping a clean sheet would not be a bonus but something the defence deserved for their performance on the night. Suspended for the next domestic game, meaning Mustafi could come in and replace him, but he should be well rested for the next leg.
Laurent Koscielny: 8.5/10
A massive performance from the Arsenal captain. He led the defence in most stats, while his presence itself brought a sense of superiority in the Gunners’ defence, compared to the one that danced all day against Everton. Kept Dries Mertens quiet all night and ensured Arsenal went over the line with a clean sheet to show for their efforts.
Nacho Monreal: 6.5/10
Not the best of performances from Monreal but still a good one in the end. At times he was beaten in the air, but Napoli’s primary threat came from his side of the pitch. Add the inconsistent Kolasinac to the mix, Monreal at times was all on his own on his side. However, there were periods when the Spaniard showed aggression and pressured the attackers in more central areas.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 8/10
Performances like these make an Arsenal fan not miss Hector Bellerin. Maitland-Niles was on top of his game, very athletic, smart and combative in his performance, especially in the first half. In the second period, in tone with Arsenal’s style, he was more conservative. Got the assist for the first goal for Ramsey.
Aaron Ramsey: 9/10
Top class box-to-box performance from the Welshman, who set the early tone for Arsenal’s performance on the night. Everything that came out of his way was positive. Got the first goal, but in reality, could have added more if not for the missed chances.
Lucas Torreira: 8.5/10
Arsenal’s loss against Everton was attributed to a bad midfield pairing, something Emery got right against Napoli. Torreira displayed character, and this display was something to bring him out of his recent slump. Ideally, he should have got the goal, and it was all his work for it, but officially it was adjudged to be an own goal in the end.
Sead Kolasinac: 6/10
In a brilliant team performance, Kolasinac was the poorest performer. That doesn’t mean he was terrible; in fact, he was in his usual stride of bombing down the left side and trying to create chances for the strikers. His only flaw was the lack of defensive awareness, which was caused mostly due to his eagerness to go forward and abandon his position to defend.
Mesut Ozil: 8/10
A tidy performance from the German, who showed his importance in the final third. His positioning was excellent, and his movements caused Napoli’s defence plenty of problems. No doubt he was disappointed when substituted.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
Not the best night for Arsenal’s strikers. Aubameyang missed some chances when he should have scored. Needs to show more sharpness in front of goal.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6.5/10
Not his usual self, and though he would be ruing some of the chances he missed, Arsenal need a clinical Lacazette heading into the league clash this week as well as the second leg against Napoli.
Alex Iwobi: 6/10
Sent to make a difference to the side, especially in attack. Did not inspire the team much, but provided a good presence.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 6/10
Sent for a similar purpose to Iwobi’s. Helped the side somewhat, but could not produce or help Arsenal score the third goal.
Mohamed Elneny: N/A
Sent to shore up the midfield and relieve Torreira; did his job well till the final whistle.