NEWS
Wednesday December 11 2013
Line-ups: Napoli-Arsenal

Napoli face a Mission: Impossible tonight against Arsenal, as Gonzalo Higuain and substitute goalkeeper Rafael take on Mesut Ozil.

It kicks off at 19.45 GMT as the Partenopei aim to maintain their 100 per cent home Champions League record at the San Paolo for this season.

Group F is incredibly close, so it’s possible Napoli could go out even if they finish on 12 points.

Either Rafa Benitez’s men have to improve upon Borussia Dortmund’s result against Olympique Marseille, or they must beat Arsenal by three clear goals.

The 2-0 defeat at the Emirates was easily their worst performance of the campaign. They are fresh from a surprise 3-3 home draw with Udinese and have won just one of their last five games in all competition.

Pepe Reina was injured for that game and has still not recovered, so is not even on the bench, as Rafael Cabral receives his Champions League debut.

Rafael has only played one game in a Napoli jersey so far, last week’s 3-3 draw with Udinese, which was far from a confident performance.

Marek Hamsik, Juan Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto are still unavailable, so Dries Mertens completes the support network behind former Arsenal transfer target Higuain.

Surprisingly, Blerim Dzemaili and Federico Fernandez are preferred to Gokhan Inler and Miguel Angel Britos.

It’s likely Napoli will have to score more than three, as they haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 12 European matches.

Arsenal are on stunning Premier League form and currently top the Champions League group, but their qualification is not secure yet either.

Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo, Bacary Sagna, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby are all out of action.

Ozil is the star man in attack with Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Despite an injury scare, Mathieu Flamini is preferred to Aaron Ramsey in midfield with Jack Wilshere benched.

Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Armero; Behrami, Dzemaili; Callejon, Pandev, Mertens; Higuain

Napoli bench: Colombo, Uvini, Britos, Cannavaro, Inler, Insigne, Zapata

Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta; Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud

Arsenal bench: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, Bendtner

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