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Friday April 12 2019
London calling, but Napoli are asleep

Napoli ignored Carlo Ancelotti’s Arsenal warnings and Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall worries the Europa League might not be salvageable.

“If we play like that against Arsenal, then we’re in trouble.” Carlo Ancelotti had rung the alarm after defeat to Empoli and a draw with 10-man Genoa, but Napoli still looked fast asleep in the Emirates and paid the price. Now it remains to be seen if the Europa League situation is salvageable.

In truth, Arsenal were excellent, but Ancelotti will look at his own game plan and question his tactics. The tie, whilst not over, leaves the Partenopei with a monumental task. They will have to breathe in every last bit of the ferocious atmosphere that their home fans will generate at the Stadio San Paolo in the return leg, if they have any hope of progressing to the next round.

It was perhaps a surprise to some that Ancelotti seemed to pick a mildly cautious team for the trip to London. Arkadiusz Milik, who has been in superb form this season, was left on the bench. His 16 goals have come from only 45 of his 76 shots on target, his 59% accuracy eclipsing that of Cristiano Ronaldo, Duvan Zapata, Krzysztof Piatek and Fabio Quagliarella. Instead, the Coach opted for a front two of Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens so that he could play on the counter-attack with pace, as he knew how strong Arsenal have been at home, but that their defence lacked speed.

Neapolitan staff and players alike conceded that they had made errors in the game. The overall conclusion was that the team were too timid and had tried to start the game with possession, but were surprised by the ferocity of Arsenal’s press. This forced the defenders to make errors, and if hadn’t been for Meret in goal, the game could have been much worse. Napoli’s midfield had been over-run by the industrious Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira and when the final whistle went, the Partenopei breathed a sigh of relief, despite rallying in the second half.

It is not often that the sun doesn’t shine on the bay of Naples and it will be rays of light that the fans and the squad will be looking towards in the second leg. Firstly, Arsenal’s away form has been extremely poor and this will mean that Unai Emery will probably change tack with his forward line and how he presses, especially with a two-goal cushion. Napoli will also look at the game differently, as they will have the intense emotion on the San Paolo behind them and need a much more aggressive approach. Arsenal’s Torreira (formerly of Sampdoria) has experienced this before and said that the atmosphere will have an influence.

Whether Ancelotti reverts to his trident up front and include Milik will be a talking point. Napoli director of sport Cristiano Giuntoli confirmed before the game that Insigne and Mertens were there to “attack Arsenal defenders with quality and pace.” but this didn’t work. Even when Arsenal played a high line in the second half, the advantage wasn’t grasped.

Napoli certainly have a chance to go through to the next round, but the work starts this weekend against Chievo. They must re-establish some form and who better to play than the team on course to finish the season with the lowest points total in Serie A history? A convincing win will allow them to focus on Arsenal with renewed optimism, they certainly cannot be as lapse after Empoli and Genoa.

With Juventus most likely starting their Scudetto party this weekend, Napoli were meant to focus all their energies on the Europa League and winning silverware on the continent for the first time since 1989. That’s what makes the sluggish attitude against Arsenal not just confusing, but positively unforgivable.

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Have your say...
@ Ade if you don't like Italian football don't watch it and don't comment on it. Get a life and do something else!
on the 16th April, 2019 at 9:03am
An aristocracy of untouchables in the dressing room, is the recepe for disaster, it is intrinsically anti-Team spirit, and happens only in Italy, where you have average players, being fabricated into pseudo-great players by all means, this has harmed Italian football greatly in the last 30 years.
“Lorenzo the great, the Totti of Napoli, now the Captain etc” is Italian mediocrity, and hypocrisy at its best, he is over praised playing for Napoli, and slaughtered when playing for Italy, because they know hi’s worthless.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 5:04am
@Luciano, you were almost there, but then you missed the point, Insigne is, and has been the biggest problem for Napoli, since the Neapolitan Deep State imposed him on all coaches since Bennitez. Napoli has been playing with 10 men for the last 6 years, no one can win the scudetto with 10 men. when you impose an aristocary within the team, it won't go far.
on the 16th April, 2019 at 4:47am
@Dmitri
I know when a thief is caught in the act or red handed, he/she goes on the defensive! Italy is simply a country in disarray.... JUVE winning 8th straight unprecedented scudetto! Weakest Napoli ever in 6 years! Poorest inter and Milan in 5 consecutive years even failing against weaker opponents in the Europa league( Olympiakos, Frankfurt and Arsenal respectively) what a tragic league!
on the 14th April, 2019 at 12:44pm
Napoli to beat Arsenal at the San Paolo, then all these doom and gloomers can eat humble pie.
on the 13th April, 2019 at 8:22pm
It shows the state of Italian football. Napoli are 2nd in Serie A and look how bad they are!
Milik is 'excellent' because he is in Italy put him any other league and his stats will drop considerably.
I think everyone should focus on Juve because Juve are the worst they have been and are about to win another scudetto and it is disgraceful, any earlier and they will be handing it to them in September!
Italy is wasting time with all these average foreign players use Italian youth can't be worse!
on the 13th April, 2019 at 4:53pm
This match is a statement of entire Napoli's season! Unlike the other 2 or 3 previous seasons, when they played an important role in UCL and (most of) Serie A Scudetto, this year, they were simply tired of everything! It's clear that these players have reached their maximum in Napoli & if the team wants to progress, they MUST change their squad! THE ONLY players who MUST stay are Koulibaly, Zielinski, Meret & and a few others! Insigne, Callejon... ALL MUST GO IN HISTORY! Capitalize on them while
on the 13th April, 2019 at 3:21pm
@Ade YOU ARE A TOTAL IDIOT who knows NOTHING about football, let alone about the leagues! When did you start watching football, in these last 10 years when Americans got into the EPl, put all those money in it (and with it, didn't just advertised it, but RUINED THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL with those silly transfers, insane money for mediocre players!) & began showing it on the American media, calling it THE BEST!
Aside the past, CURRENTLY, Serie A has the 2ND most INTERNATIONALS than ANY OTHER LEAGUE!
on the 13th April, 2019 at 3:16pm
The title should be "London Calling, but Napoli are busy talking about Juve".
on the 13th April, 2019 at 8:18am
@Ade Spain is poorer than Italy and hence all your points are bull.
on the 13th April, 2019 at 2:28am
Gotta say some of the Napoli fans here are just as bad as ADL.
The team's been punching above it weight for years. You want to sell all the key players of the record setting team?
Why would any of the players (who could easily be playing for bigger teams) want to stay when fans show such ingratitude?
Let Ancelotti decide who stays and who goes, and give him some freedom on the market to make key signings.
Build on what you already have, because this is your best team ever apart from Diego's.
on the 13th April, 2019 at 12:26am
Italy is nothing but a good old forgotten soccer country.... The country is poor and economically a farce.. It people are a little more than wiseacres( all knowledge and no substance) and most sadly, they simply don't have any mojo left to offer the world of modern soccer! As a calcio lover, I have known a long time ago Italy has got nothing to offer.....Gattuso managing Milan! Spalletti( a failure) managing Inter while As Roma is in disarray! Indeed this status-quo reflects the country in its entirety..... League of the clown's
on the 12th April, 2019 at 9:04pm
Napoli need a new cycle.

Sell Insigne and Alln to make money. Get rid of Callejon and Albiol who are old and definitely sell Rui, Hysaj, Ounas, Diawara and Rog who have proven to not add anything.

Build around Meret, Koulibaly, Fabian, Zielinsk but reality is they are not good enough for Europe.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 6:46pm
Napoli are such a joke. I say this as a life long fan from there. Total breakdown of the squad needs to occur. Sell Insigne (so overrated) and Allan, and sign a CB, RB, and a striker who can score in big games. Milik disappears.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 1:58pm
All Serie A teams have been utterly abysmal in Europe this year. Both Milan teams messed up trying to get out of groups. Napoli rolled over in the UCL when the heat was turned on and again last night at the first sight of decent opposition. Roma got out of an easy group, then got beat by a bang average Porto, a few moments of magic from Zaniolo gave some false hope. Lazio got blown away by a average Sevilla side. Juve have been terrible, any success of theirs has been 100% Ronaldo. Embarrassing!
on the 12th April, 2019 at 1:57pm
P1g can not coach, period.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 1:27pm
Maybe the other teams in Italy should focus less on Juve, and more on themselves? Just saying.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 12:59pm
A clean sheet will be a must in Naples. If they keep one, they have a decent chance of at least taking it to extra-time

But they'll have to stop playing "the Italian way" and bring some pace and urgency to their game. Arsenal, like Roma, Spurs, and Napoli themselves, are known to be fickle. So it's not over yet

And if they are going to quit at half time in the tie, then they shouldn't be playing football at all. Put the reserves out against Chievo and go all-out for the win next week
on the 12th April, 2019 at 12:40pm
1. Napoli were an embarrassment to themselves and Serie A (not that it needed any more humiliation); they came out cold, sloppy and wasteful, passes constantly going awry, always second to the tackle and useless in front of goal. Players like Insigne (who’ll never be top class) were drifting around the pitch like some aimless dolts, pretty passing their way to defeat. I have to blame Ancelotti, who has managed in England and should have expected a fast, pressing start from the Gunners ...
on the 12th April, 2019 at 12:34pm
2. ... (who I think are quite an ordinary team). I bet he wishes he’d taken up the role of Italian manager. Even the TV commentator mentioned how in the past he would have had ‘bigger fish to fry’ at this time in the season. Why start with three midgets up front? When Napoli did get two gilt edged chances they fluffed their lines; grabbing just one would have put them in a very good position to progress. Now it’s all over.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 12:34pm
Disagree.

Milik is not excellent. He has a good goal ratio but adds nothing to the game.

The team peaked under ADL and with him not spending players like Hamsik got disillusioned and left. Insigne and Allan clearly want to leave as well.

I also don’t think Ancelotti is the right man. Napoli has looked horrible the whole year. The Roma game was an exception which says more about Roma.
on the 12th April, 2019 at 11:48am

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