Arsenal vs Napoli: How can we make this defense last forever? – FanSided

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NAPLES, ITALY – APRIL 18: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal applauds fans during the UEFA Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg match between S.S.C. Napoli and Arsenal at Stadio San Paolo on April 18, 2019 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) Arsenal absolutely smothered Napoli at Stadio San Paolo, so my question now becomes just how we can make this defense last forever.Arsenal had a big task on their hands as they moved into Stadio San Paolo to protect a two goal lead against Napoli. But when the starting XI was announced, we all knew one big thing – that Unai Emery wasn’t going into a shell. He sent out his favorite 3-5-2 with the intent of putting this tie to bed with an early goal.He got that, when Alexandre Lacazette curled home a brilliant free kick from 25 yards and just like that, the Gunners could take breath and focus on defending.And holy hell, did they defend. For 90 minutes plus stoppage time, a back line that is constantly under fire, not just from opposing teams, but from the media and fans as well, dominated the Napoli attack and absolutely smothered them out of any hopes of life.That’s not an easy thing to do. Speed is supposed to be able to eviscerate this Arsenal defense, especially in a back three that often leaves channels open, but with Laurent Koscielny as the anchor, Sokratis on the right and Nacho Monreal on the left, there was no great threat coming form the other way.This was beyond a doubt the best defensive effort I’ve seen this year away from home. Sure, Napoli squandered a few chances, but they didn’t have a moment of peace anywhere near the Gunner’s box. The passing lanes came crashing down before they could be exploited and the man on the ball had to make snap decisions because they were getting closed down so quickly.The thing is, this defense won’t be something we can replicate for long. Both Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are 33 years old, and Sokratis is 30. That’s 96 years across a back three. Not good. So how do you keep that momentum going?It’s no easy feat, but on the bright side, you don’t have to do it all at once. You can go through a good old slow transition of keeping Sokratis as the anchor for the next youth wave and building around him.It may not be as seamless as we’d like, but even just considering what we already have in Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding. You let them flank Sokratis, or invest in an actual left-sided centerback and you can keep this momentum going.The main thing is that it looked as though the defensive philosophy is settling in. This concept of closing down opposing players and not giving them a moment of peace. Funny how this seems like such a novel concept, but now that it’s here, let’s just keep it going.
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