Arsenal latest: 'Dangerous' former target and team in lockdown

All the latest news and gossip from The Emirates this morning.

Arsene Wenger has warned his players ahead of the Champions League tie with Napoli this evening. The North London side play the Italian’s at the intimidating Stadio San Paulo tonight and Arsene Wenger has stated:

“It is a defining game. It is a decider – it is to be in the Champions League or not. Rafael Benítez has a lot of experience, he is a very intelligent manager, I know he will prepare his team very well. The only way to counter is be at our best and put in a good performance. An average performance will not be good enough.”

Arsenal players are also being warned not to leave their hotel ahead of the game. Napoli ultras caused havoc in London with the first meeting between these two sides seeing Arsenal fans injured in London.

The fans are also being bussed to and from the game to avoid any security issues.

Wenger has also moved to warn his players of the threat posed by Gonzalo Higuain. Arsenal were after the Argentine in the summer before turning their attention elsewhere.

In the end Napoli snapped him up from Real Madrid:

“We'll have to keep [Gonzalo] Higuaín quiet he is very dangerous and the more we can play outside of our box, the easier that will be. We have to be at our best.”

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: © Laurent Koscielny has let out one last clarion call ahead of the game tonight. The French defender said in the pre-match press conference that he wanted to make sure a similar performance to the one put in against Borussia Dortmund in Germany:

“It was very difficult to win in Germany, because last season they were in the final of the Champions League. It was difficult, but we showed some good character and were very strong in defence, then had the opportunity to score, which we took. Tomorrow it will be like that again"

image: © Jan S0L0

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