The Gunners almost got off to a perfect start, as 18-year-old rising star Serge Gnabry found himself with a golden opportunity inside the 18-yard box in the third minute. But he couldn't curve the shot around a maze of bodies in front of goal, sending the effort wide.
After Arsenal squandered their first scoring chance of the match, Napoli grabbed the lead in the seventh minute courtesy of Lorenzo Insigne. He made a terrific run, and when Carl Jenkinson failed to clear the long ball over the top, the Italian finished.
Arsenal had a chance to equalize 10 minutes later when a controversial decision went in their favor. A dicey challenge on Kieran Gibbs led the referee to give the Gunners a penalty kick. Lukas Podolski stepped up, but he was stonewalled by Pepe Reina.
The stop on a poorly taken penalty by Podolski sapped some of the energy out of the Emirates Stadium crowd. Arsenal could have led 2-0, but they were instead down by one due to costly mistakes.
Napoli stretched the lead to 2-0 just inside the first half hour as Goran Pandev made a nice cut across goal. He beat Per Mertesacker with pace and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with a couple quick touches before using a nifty finish to find the far corner.
The Gunners had a couple chances to cut into the deficit before halftime. Podolski watched an effort go just wide of the post. Then Aaron Ramsey broke free behind the defense and beat Reina, but he was deemed offside by a step.
When the halftime whistle blew, the Emirates faithful let their feelings be known with a chorus of boos.
Just like in the first 45 minutes, Arsenal created the first opportunity of the half, as Jack Wilshere used a slick individual effort to break free from three defenders. Unfortunately for the Gunners, he wasn't able to find the net with the shot.
A parade of substitutes began around the hour mark, as both clubs started to rotate their lineups, knowing another match was on the horizon Sunday. The most notable switches for Arsenal had an attacking vibe, as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entered in short succession.
The Gunners were able to cut the Napoli lead to one in the 72nd minute. Walcott took a corner that floated perfectly into the middle of the box. Olivier Giroud was waiting and connected on an overhead kick that deflected off Bacary Sagna and into the net.
Arsenal continued to control the pace of play from there, as Napoli appeared content to defend their narrow lead. Giroud had multiple chances to equalize and Oxlade-Chamberlain also had a good look, but neither found the net.
They got their break off a set piece. A cross into the box was headed right on by Mertesacker, but Reina made a sprawling save to keep out the initial effort. Alas, it was hopeless, as Laurent Koscielny rushed in to level the match at two.
Arsenal had a couple chances to steal the victory, but Napoli was able to hold on to avoid a complete collapse with some timely defending to secure the draw.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal): B+
Wilshere was a steady presence in the midfield throughout the match for the Gunners. He helped jump-start a couple attacks and broke free for a chance of his own early in the second half. It was a solid all-around effort from the 21-year-old English international, even though his efforts didn't lead to any goals.
Lukas Podolski (Arsenal): D-
Podolski had a forgettable performance. After getting stopped by Reina from the penalty spot, his confidence level seemed to drop. He decided to use a drop pass instead of taking a shot late in the first half and had multiple poor first touches in the second half. Far from his best showing, to say the least.
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli): A-
Insigne gave the Gunners' back line some serious issues due to his well-timed runs. He did very well to convert the opening goal after Jenkinson missed an opportunity to clear. Insigne continued to make his presence felt in the attacking third and appears close to regular-season form.
Pepe Reina (Napoli): B+
It was a very solid showing for Reina in his first appearance with Napoli. The veteran goalkeeper did well to stop the Podolski penalty and commanded his box well as he develops chemistry with his new defenders. He wasn't at fault for either of the goals Arsenal did manage to score.
Arsenal Starters' Grades
Napoli Starters' Grades
The 2013 Emirates Cup concludes Sunday with another pair of matches. Napoli plays in the first clash of the day against Porto. Host Arsenal will then finish the tournament against Galatasaray before turning their attention to a friendly with Manchester City.
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