Sokratis Papastathopoulos: Watford win sets Arsenal up perfectly for Napoli tie
The Gunners hold a 2-0 first-leg advantage.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos believes Arsenal’s win at Watford on Monday night has prepared them to repeat the feat in Naples and secure a place in the Europa League semi-finals.
The Gunners have struggled on the road this season and an unconvincing 1-0 victory against a Watford side which played for 79 minutes with 10 men was only their sixth Premier League win away from the Emirates Stadium.
While the challenge of facing Napoli, second only to Juventus in Serie A, poses a different challenge Arsenal do head to Naples defending a 2-0 lead from last week’s first leg.
And Sokratis, who was banned for Monday’s game at Vicarage Road, feels Arsenal can take something from a rare away win as they look to reach the last four of the Europa League for the second successive season.
“Of course,” Sokratis replied when asked if the Watford success can spread confidence among the squad.
“It was an important win for us and an important three points for the Premier League. The Europa League is a different competition. We want to go even further in this competition.
“Tomorrow will be difficult for us but we have to be focused for 90 minutes and to do our work, our style of the game. Tomorrow we have to play like the game is 0-0.”
Sokratis, 30, spent three years in Italy playing for Genoa and AC Milan and knows the sort of atmosphere that will greet the visitors when they step out in front of 60,000 supporters on Thursday evening.
“The atmosphere will be very good and I already played a lot of times here,” he said.
“For us, I don’t think that will change anything. We have experience, a good team, we trust ourselves and we are ready to take on this game.
“I think that we have a lot of players who have played there before. They know this stadium is very difficult and they have a very good team, the atmosphere is very good and we know about the situation. We have to play our football and be focused for the whole game.”
Arsenal boss Unai Emery, meanwhile, insists he will set his team out to score – knowing one away goal would leave Napoli needing to net four times to get through.
Tomorrow will be difficult for us but we have to be focused for 90 minutes and to do our work, our style of the game Sokratis Papastathopoulos
“We know 90 minutes here can be long, but we want to play this match not thinking about the first leg,” he said.
“We want to play tomorrow thinking to win, thinking to score, thinking to push, thinking to stop them.
“Thinking also tactically to be together and thinking when we have the space to attack the space. And also respecting the tactical structure and individual work.
“They have a lot of players with a big quality to push against us and give us a lot of problems but we also have the players to fight against them with our quality.”