Arsenal Welcome Italian giants Napoli while Chelsea travel to Prague for their first leg quarters

By Brian Murumba: Thursday, April 11th 2019 at 13:00 GMT +3 | Football
Photo [Courtesy]

When it gets to this point in Europe, the Europa League is just as difficult as the Champions League.

This is because teams who narrowly fail to qualify for Europe’s top competition or for various reasons fail to make it past the group stages find themselves here.

It is no different this season as eight European sides with history in the Champions League find themselves in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

Two top English sides, Chelsea and Arsenal, and Italian side SS Napoli are among the sides representing their countries in the last eight tonight.

Game Yetu now looks at top games that will be played tonight and what fans should expect from their respective teams.

Arsenal vs Napoli

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Photo [Courtesy]

10:00 pm on Thursday 11th April

Emirates Stadium 

The Gunners host Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League Quarter Final tie.

Manager Unai Emery is under pressure to turn the tide in terms of his team’s away form and badly needs this home victory just in case the away demons strike again in the second Leg in Naples.

The North Londoners have won only five away EPL matches all season and have settled for second best in their last two away Europa League knock out games, having to come behind in ties against BATE and Rennes to reach the last eight.

On the other hand, Ancelotti, a very experienced manager who has three Champions League titles to his name has steered Napoli’s ship to calmer waters and now sit second in Serie A behind leaders Juventus.

The former Real Madrid manager is very cautious ahead of this mouthwatering clash following recent sloppy performances from his team.

The Naples-based side were held to a 1-1 draw with lowly placed Genoa on Saturday and had to play a man less after one of them saw red.

Team News

Arsenal

Skipper Laurent Koscielny and Xhaka face late fitness tests after missing Everton loss with foot and groin injuries respectively.

Meanwhile, Aubameyang has been struggling with illness but the coach says he has taken Antibiotics and is expected to be fine for today.

Napoli

The Serie A giants have Koulibaly back after suspension with Amadou Diawara and Raul Albiol carrying injuries while Arsenal Loanee Ospina picked up a head injury last month. However, Napoli will be happy to welcome back Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam.

Head to Head

Arsenal and Napoli have faced off 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 the Emirates, before losing by the same margin at the Stadio San Paolo.

Players to watch

Arsenal: P.E Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette

PE Aubameyang and Lacazette [Courtesy]

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam

Ghoulam and Insigne [Courtesy]

Slavia Prague vs Chelsea

photo [Courtesy]

10:00 pm on Thursday 11th April

Eden Arena, Prague

Chelsea will visit Slavia Prague to try and get an early advantage in the two-legged tie. Their under-fire manager Maurizio Sarri has praised the Czech-based side, branding them ‘dangerous’ ahead of the match.

Slavia Prague beat Sevilla in a 4-3 thriller to get to the last eight for the first time.

"This a very dangerous match for us, they have scored six in two matches against Seville, they are dangerous,” said Sarri.

Chelsea currently sit third in the Premier League and are on a three-match winning streak.

The blues go into this match as favourites. Their opponents were beaten in Champions League third qualifying round at the beginning of the season by Dynamo Kyiv, whom Chelsea thrashed 8-0 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Europa League just last month.

Slavia currently sit top of the table in the Czech First League, seven points ahead of Viktoria Plzen.

Team News

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri is expected to make wholesale changes to his squad that starred in the Premier League against West Ham to give youngsters and fringe players some playing time and also manage the crazy packed fixture list.

Willian, Pedro and Giroud are likely to start while Marcos Alonso and Andreas Christensen could get a nod too.

Custodian Willy Caballero may come in for first-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Slavia Prague

They will miss the services of Tomas Soucek who is suspended after picking up his third EL yellow of the season against Sevilla in the round of 16.

Head to head

This will be the first ever competitive meeting between Slavia Prague and Chelsea. The Czech side have won just one of their previous nine games against English sides in Europe (D2 L6) - this coming against Leeds United in March 2000 in the UEFA Cup (2-1).

Players to watch

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard [Courtesy]

Slavia Prague: Milan Škoda, Miroslav Stoch

 

Other matches of the night include:

Benfica vs Eintracht Frankfurt

10:00 pm Thursday 11th April

Estadio da Luz 

 

Villarreal vs Valencia

10:00pm Thursday 11th April

Estadio de la Ceramica  

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