Arsenal celebrate Mesut Ozil's goal against Everton in the English Premier League, December 8. Reuters
Follow our LIVE coverage of all Wednesday's Champions League action including Napoli v Arsenal and Steaua Bucharest v Chelsea right here.
The last time Napoli faced Arsenal, the English Premier League side cast a spell on the Italians where the ball seemed to repel from them and stick to the boots of their opponents, only leaving when it was time to nestle into the back of the net.
That performance from Arsenal was a masterclass like no other, one of their best performances in Europe in a few years, and a performance which would have seen any team in the Champions League struggle to quell.
When the two sides meet again, the scenario will be different. First of all, from Arsenal's point of view, the atmosphere will be hostile, with the crowd in Naples, baying for the away side's blood, and the home side in desperate need of a victory, not just any win, a big one at that.
Arsenal lead Group F by three points from Borussia Dortmund, who travel to Marseille, and Napoli with Arsene Wenger's men only needing a draw to ensure progression.
Napoli need to better Dortmund's result to go through to the knockout rounds, with a scenario involving all three teams ending up with 12 points also very much a possibility. In such a case the head-to-head records between the two sides come into play, with the goal difference in the matches against each other then deciding the top two.
"The attitude of the players is focused and ambitious," Wenger said. "That pleases me very much. We will play our usual game and try to take control of the ball. Tomorrow [Wednesday] is a decider in the Champions League, that is for sure. This is a match we absolutely have to win. The team must stay balanced; we can't change our way of playing.
"The most important thing is to progress from the group. Of course we would like to be first in the group, but to qualify is the most important thing. We won't be affected by playing in such a hot atmosphere. We have played in stadiums all over Europe so we are used to the pressure exerted by the home supporters."
Napoli were thoroughly outclassed by Arsenal when the two sides met last time in the Champions League. Reuters
Napoli manager Rafa Benitez knows the magnitude of the task at hand, having come up against Wenger, whom he considers to be the best coach in the Premier League, on many occasions in the past.
"Arsenal are a quality team who are really quick on the counterattack," Benitez said. "We just have to stay balanced against opponents as strong as them. I'm so happy to be in Naples playing in the Champions League. Tomorrow [Wednesday] is our last chance to get out of the group, so we will give everything we can.
"We don't care about Marseille vs Borussia because we just have to try to win against Arsenal.
"Arsenal have the best coach in the Premier League. Wenger will prepare for this game by looking to make the most of his players' qualities, and we have to do the same. They are good in possession, but also on the counterattack -- we have to play our own game.
"We have to try to impose our quality and have confidence in what we do. Of course, we were unlucky to play in such a competitive group, but we are proud because we can still qualify. The fact we still have this chance going into the last game means we are doing well."
Arsenal are coming off a pulsating 1-1 draw against Everton on Sunday, and while fatigue might play a factor, if the Premier League side's playmakers come to the fore, then Napoli might just get overwhelmed yet again.
Benitez, though, is a smart manager, and he will ensure Napoli do not make the same mistakes they did in the reverse fixture at the Emirates. This is likely to be a much more tight encounter.
Team news: Napoli: Benitez will have to make without the services of Marek Hamsik, who is ruled out with a foot injury, along with Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto. Goalkeeper Pepe Reina is a doubt with a thigh problem, after the on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper sat out the 3-3 draw against Udinese.
Arsenal: Bacary Sagna remains ruled out for the Gunners, who are still without Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby.
Key men: Napoli: Gonzalo Higuain, a summer Arsenal target, was a major miss for the Italians in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, and the Argentine will look to make up for that by banging in a couple of goals in Naples.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey had a bit of an off day against Everton, but as the Wales midfielder has shown so often this season, when he is on form, there are few better midfielders in Europe at the moment.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Thursday morning with live coverage on Ten Action in India. You can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.S. can do the same by clicking HERE. To catch the action courtesy live streaming in the U.K., click HERE. Middle East and North Africa viewers click HERE.
Expected lineups: Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Reveillere; Inler, Dzemaili; Insigne, Pandev, Callejon; Higuain.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey; Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud.
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