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Arsenal v Napoli background

Two of the competition's big guns meet in north London as Arsenal, fresh from another second-leg comeback, welcome Napoli.

Arsenal celebrate their round of 16 victory
Arsenal celebrate their round of 16 victory ©Getty Images

Two of Europe's big guns come face to face in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals as Arsenal and Napoli meet in London for the first leg of a captivating Anglo-Italian tie.

• Arsenal cruised through to the knockout phase from Group E, dropping just two points as they qualified with two games to spare, but they had a scare in both the round of 32 and round of 16, claiming 3-0 second-leg home wins to eliminate BATE Borisov and Rennes after they had lost both first legs.

• Napoli were the best third-placed team in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage, finishing with nine points, but their only defeat, 0-1 at Liverpool on matchday six, enabled the Merseysiders to leapfrog them into second place on goals scored and qualify alongside group winners Paris Saint-Germain. The Partenopei kicked off their UEFA Europa League campaign with a comfortable 5-1 aggregate win against Zürich before edging out Salzburg 4-3 over two legs in the round of 16.

Watch Özil strike against Napoli in 2013
Watch Özil strike against Napoli in 2013

Previous meetings
• The clubs have been paired together just once before, in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage, when both registered 2-0 home wins. Napoli's matchday six success proved insufficient to take them through to the round of 16 despite a final tally of 12 points – the highest total of any side not to progress from their section in UEFA Champions League history.

• Arsenal's home record against Italian visitors is W10 D4 L2. They have won six of their last seven matches against Serie A opposition in north London, drawing the other. Furthermore, they have conceded just once in those fixtures, in the most recent – a 3-1 win against AC Milan in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg (5-1 on aggregate).

• The Gunners have won both of their previous European quarter-finals against Serie A opposition without conceding a goal – 1-0 on aggregate against Torino (0-0 away, 1-0 home) en route to their 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph, when they defeated another Italian club, Parma, 1-0 in the final, and 2-0 on aggregate against Juventus in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League (2-0 home, 0-0 away).

• Defeated at Anfield in December, Napoli remain without a win away to Premier League clubs, their seven visits having yielded five defeats and two draws, one of them a goalless stalemate in Wales against Swansea City in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 32 – a tie they won 3-1 on aggregate. Their only other two-legged tie against Premier League opposition ended in defeat after extra time against Chelsea in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (3-1 home, 1-4 away).

Meet the #UEL quarter-finalists
Meet the #UEL quarter-finalists

Form guide
• The Gunners finished sixth in the 2017/18 Premier League – their lowest final placing under Arsène Wenger in his swansong season as manager after 22 years. It earned them a second successive qualification for the UEFA Europa League group stage.

• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons until last term, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt, going out to eventual winners Atlético Madrid. This season they breezed through their group, an opening 4-2 win at home to Vorskla Poltava preceding four wins and a draw in which they conceded no further goals.

• That competition record-equalling run of five clean sheets ended at BATE, where they lost 1-0 before recovering to win 3-0 at home. It was a similar comeback tale against Rennes in the round of 16, a 3-1 defeat in France preceding another 3-0 home victory, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice – his first goals in the competition since matchday one.

• Arsenal's one previous UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie came last season against CSKA Moskva, Wenger's side progressing 6-3 on aggregate after winning the first leg 4-1 at home thanks to two goals apiece from Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette. It was the Gunners' first appearance in a European quarter-final since the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League, when they were beaten 6-3 on aggregate by Barcelona (2-2 home, 1-4 away).

• The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up picked up seven points at home in this season's group stage. The knockout phase wins over BATE and Rennes mean their home record in two UEFA Europa League campaigns is now W8 D3 L1, with 29 goals scored and eight conceded.

Highlights: Salzburg 3-1 Napoli
Highlights: Salzburg 3-1 Napoli

• Serie A runners-up in 2017/18, Napoli qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the fifth time – all in the last eight seasons.

• This is the second successive season that they have finished third in their UEFA Champions League section and therefore crossed over to the UEFA Europa League. Last term they were defeated in the round of 32 by Leipzig, losing to the European debutants on away goals (1-3 home, 2-0 away), but they came through that stage this season, beating Zürich 3-1 in Switzerland and 2-0 in southern Italy. Against Salzburg in the round of 16 they won the first leg 3-0 at home and opened the scoring away in a second leg that ended 3-1 in favour of the Austrian champions.

• Like Arsenal, this is Napoli's second appearance in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and, like Arsenal again, they won their previous tie 6-3 on aggregate, after a first-leg 4-1 win (away) and a second-leg 2-2 draw (home) against Wolfsburg in 2014/15.

• UEFA Cup victors in 1989, Napoli have won only two of their last nine European away fixtures (D2 L5). Their away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W4 D2 L6, the defeat in Salzburg following two successive victories.

Highlights: Arsenal 3-0 Rennes
Highlights: Arsenal 3-0 Rennes

Links and trivia 
• Goalkeeper David Ospina is on loan to Napoli from Arsenal, the club he joined in 2014.

• Two other Napoli players have operated in England – Vlad Chiricheş for Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham (2013–15) and Orestis Karnezis for Watford (2017/18).

• Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of Arsenal's London rivals Chelsea between 2009 and 2011, winning the Premier League title and FA Cup in 2010. Ancelotti coached Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech at Chelsea and was the Real Madrid boss when the Spanish club sold Mesut Özil to Arsenal in September 2013.

• Chelsea's record against Arsenal during Ancelotti's spell in London was W3 L1. He also faced the Gunners in the UEFA Champions League with AC Milan, losing 2-0 on aggregate in the 2007/08 round of 16, before a comprehensive 10-2 aggregate triumph at the same stage of the competition as Bayern München's coach in 2016/17.

• Four Arsenal players have Serie A experience: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lazio 2008–11, Juventus 2011–18), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa 2008–10, Milan 2010/11), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria 2012–14) and Lucas Torreira (Pescara 2014–16, Sampdoria 2016–18).

#UEL round of 16 second legs: Best goals
#UEL round of 16 second legs: Best goals

• Aubameyang was in Milan's youth side between 2007 and 2009 when Ancelotti was the first-team coach.

• Ramsey has signed a contract to join Juventus next season.

• Have played together at club level:
Granit Xhaka & Amin Younes (Borussia Mönchengladbach 2012–14)
Bernd Leno & Arkadiusz Milik (Bayer Leverkusen 2012/13)
Aubameyang & Faouzi Ghoulam (Saint-Étienne 2011–13)

• International team-mates:
Papastathopoulos & Karnezis (Greece)
Mustafi, Leno, Özil & Younes (Germany)
Nacho Monreal, Héctor Bellerin & Raúl Albiol, José Callejón (Spain)

• Arsenal are the only surviving team from last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

• The Gunners have used 30 players in this season's UEFA Europa League proper – more than any other club.

• Napoli lifted the UEFA Cup in 1988/89 and are one of four former winners of the trophy in this season's quarter-finals, along with Chelsea, Valencia and Eintracht Frankfurt.

• Arsenal have won their last seven home games in all competitions and their last ten there in the Premier League.

Pick of the saves from the round of 16 second legs
Pick of the saves from the round of 16 second legs

The coaches
• After two years with Paris Saint-Germain that yielded seven domestic trophies, Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager in May 2018, replacing the long-serving Wenger. The Spaniard oversaw Sevilla's historic hat-trick of successes in the UEFA Europa League from 2013/14 to 2015/16, having assumed control following a four-year tenure at Valencia and a brief stint at Spartak Moskva. He has been in charge of more UEFA Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 70th.

• One of the most distinguished and successful coaches in contemporary European football, former Italian international midfielder Carlo Ancelotti has an enviable CV, having managed several of the continent's top clubs and won a stack of trophies, including the UEFA Champions League on three occasions and league titles in Italy, England, France and Germany. He was appointed by Napoli in May 2018, the Partenopei becoming the record eighth club he has coached in the UEFA Champions League – after Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern München.