Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal overcame Rennes 4-3 on aggregate in the last round

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in line to start for Arsenal against Napoli in their Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.

Illness had restricted the forward to substitute appearances in Arsenal’s past two Premier League matches.

Aubameyang, 29, is Arsenal’s leading scorer with 22 goals in all competitions this season.

“He’s getting better and can start,” said Arsenal manager Unai Emery.

“He had a small problem and he has taken antibiotics for his illness,” added Emery. “That’s the main reason he didn’t start those two matches.”

Emery also revealed that he will wait until match day to assess the fitness of Laurent Koscielny who has been recovering from a foot injury, and Granit Xhaka, who is getting over a groin problem.

Both the Gunners captain Koscielny and midfielder Xhaka trained on Wednesday, but have not played for the club since the international break in March.

“We know we need to win,” said Emery. “Our first target is to win, but also we don’t want to concede chances for them to score.”

Insigne and Verdi in Napoli squad

Forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Verdi have been included in Napoli’s squad following recent injury absences.

Insigne played the final quarter of Napoli’s 1-1 draw with Genoa last Sunday, having missed the previous three games with a thigh injury.

The 27-year-old Italy international has scored 13 goals this season, while Verdi, 26, has scored four times but sat out the meeting with Genoa.

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti has fond memories of leading his Bayern Munich team to a 10-2 aggregate thrashing of Arsenal two years ago, but insists his current side face a different proposition against the Gunners this time round.

“That game with Bayern is only a good memory but they have a different manager so it will be a totally different story,” said the Italian.

“Arsenal is still competitive in the Premier League and in Europe, and we have a lot of respect for this team.

“Unai Emery is a fantastic manager with a lot of knowledge. It’s a new era for the club with a different style and a different team because new players have arrived.”

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Arsenal and Napoli have met just twice before in Europe – home and away in the group stages of the Champions League in 2013-14. Arsenal defeated the Italian side 2-0 at Emirates Stadium, before losing by the same scoreline at the Stadio San Paolo.

Arsenal

  • Arsenal have reached the quarter-final stages of European competition in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2008-09/2009-10 in the Champions League.
  • The Gunners knocked out CSKA Moscow at this stage of the Europa League last season (6-3 on aggregate) before falling to Atletico Madrid in the semi finals.
  • Arsenal have been beaten just once in their last 17 home games in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (W12 D4) – losing 1-2 to Ostersunds FK in the last 32 in 2017-18.

Napoli

  • Napoli have reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup/Europa League for the third time in their history. They fell at the semi-final stage in 2014-15, but won the competition in 1988-89 with a side featuring Diego Maradona.
  • They have never beaten an English side away from home in European competition (P8 W0 D1 L7) – they have previously lost in such games against Burnley, Leeds United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.

MOST RECENT MEETING

Napoli 2-0 Arsenal (11 December 2013)



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