Two of Europe's hottest teams will meet in a Champions League showdown on Tuesday, as Arsenal will host Napoli in a crucial Group F fixture.
The Gunners have now won nine straight games in all competitions after losing their Premier League opener to Aston Villa and currently sit atop the EPL table with 15 points. Meanwhile, Napoli has yet to lose this year and only trails Roma on Serie A's table.
The teams met in the preseason, drawing 2-2 in early August, marking the second time Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain will face the team that pursued him during the transfer window. Of course, the Gunners eventually went out and signed Mesut Ozil, easing the minds of the supporters.
There are plenty of storylines in this one, folks. Let's break them down.
When: Tuesday, October 1 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Arsenal's list of injuries this season this season will be detrimental to their chances, as players such as Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss this contest.
Of course, behind the brilliant Ozil, the scorching-hot Aaron Ramsey, the improving Olivier Giroud and a healthy contingent of defenders, the Gunners still pose a major threat.
But Napoli is full of class, something manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged while evaluating several of their players, via Paul Doyle of The Guardian:
[Lorenzo] Insigne is mobile, he is not tall but quick and very good in the transition from defence to attack and he is a good dribbler as well and is an intelligent mover. That makes him an interesting prospect for Napoli, and of course a dangerous player for us on Tuesday night.
When they win the ball they come out very quickly with [Jose] Callejon, [Marek] Hamsik, Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain—they all come out like bombs every time they win the ball. This means that the transition from our team from offence to defence will have to be very quick.
Both sides are capable of striking with beauty and precision on the counterattack, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see each team open cautiously. Napoli especially will look to be solid defensively, as four points on the road against Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal would surely be seen as a resounding success.
Arsenal's long list of injuries hasn't hurt the club yet, but against a team of Napoli's quality it will be felt. Even at home—and even with the class that Arsenal have—this Napoli side is one of the best in Europe in the moment, and Rafa Benitez's bunch could prey upon a potentially weary bunch of Arsenal regulars.
That said, Arsenal haven't continued to win by luck. The trio of Ozil, Ramsey and Jack Wilshere is as threatening as any in Europe, while the return of health to Mikel Arteta will only help. The Gunners are thin, but the product on the pitch remains excellent.
In one of the better matches of the day, look for these teams to play to a 1-1 draw.
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