A clinical first-half performance saw us defeat Napoli 2-0 in the first leg of our Europa League quarterfinal clash at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
But what did we learn? Read on to find out…
TENACIOUS TORREIRA MAKES HIS MARK
Lucas Torreira had not started a game for us since March 7, but he did not take long to make his mark here. A whirlwind of energy in the middle of the park, the Uruguayan set the tone for a fabulous first-half team performance, which culminated in his shot that deflected in off Kalidou Koulibaly to double our lead. But that was just the icing on the cake for Torreira, whose commanding display saw him win 66.7 per cent of his personal duels: bettered only by Laurent Koscielny. Napoli reportedly wanted to sign Torreira last summer, and on this evidence it is easy to see why. It is a big boost to have him back.
Back on home soil, we were back on top form as our attacking intensity immediately knocked Napoli out of their stride during a one-sided first half. Unai Emery wants his side to press from the front, and that is exactly what they did here: Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pushing the visitors back and forcing them into unforced errors throughout the opening period. The challenge is to repeat the trick in Naples next week (and indeed at Watford on Monday) – if we can do that, we will make life very difficult for any opponent.
RAMSEY STEPS UP… AGAIN
Another big game, another big game performance from Aaron Ramsey. The Wales international has been one of our most influential performers in recent months and yet again he was central to the action here. He started the move that he ended up finishing for our opening goal, and could have added at least one more to our total before the end of the night as he constantly burst forward into dangerous positions. Ramsey has now been involved in eight goals in the Europa League since the start of last season (six goals, two assists) and his determination to end his Arsenal career with another trophy is plain to see.
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