Wenger reveals tactics for Napoli examination

Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal take on Serie A hopefuls in Naples on Wednesday, December 11.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs to avoid a 3-0 defeat in Italy when his side take on Napoli if he is to secure a passage into the Champions League knockout stages.

The Frenchman, though, will line his Gunners up like he has done in every Premier League match - to win. And that task may have become less arduous as influential attacker Marek Hamsik will not be available for their opponents as the player remains injured due to fluid in the foot.

Macedonian Goran Pandev is insistent that three points is the mandatory requirement for the home side, competing in the Stadio San Paolo, and stated that, for the team to accomplish that, a total football tactic will have to be employed where every available player does their share of defending and attacking.

Pandev is also keen to repay the faith, loyalty and support of the vocal Napoli fanbase.

Like Anfield's Kop and Borussia Dortmund's Yellow Wall, much has been made this week over Napoli's 12th man, but Wenger is nonplussed: 'We know how to deal with that,' he said, as reported by The Independent.

'You have that everywhere. We played everywhere in Europe, we are used to this kind of atmosphere, when you go from Fenerbahce to Dortmund, you are used to this kind of atmosphere.'

Last night, Arsenal's weekend opponents Manchester City had the luxury of resting a number of key personnel yet escaped Germany with maximum points having come from behind to defeat Bayern Munich 3-2.

Perhaps with one eye on that lunch-time fixture on Saturday, Wenger, too, will shuffle his deck somewhat. One player he would be loathe to rest, however, is Aaron Ramsey.

'We can’t afford [that],' he stated. 'We just rotate a little bit sometimes, never more than two or three players because stability is important.'

One player Wenger will have his defensive line pay particular attention to is former summer transfer target Gonzalo Higuain, who the Gunners attempted to bring to London but were foiled by the one-upmanship from Napoli who sealed a £30m deal for the Argentinean striker.

In order to contain Higuain, Wenger alluded to the man-marking and marshalling abilities of his centre back pairing. It will likely be up to Laurent Koscielny and perhaps even Mathieu Flamini, to ensure Higuain stays away from the penalty box. That way, he can be 'kept quiet'.

He added: 'There was a lot of statements that were not true about Higuain. He has joined Benitez. He is in good hands and shows he is a great striker. We have Olivier Giroud who shows as well that he is a great striker. I am also very happy with the player I got in Ozil.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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