Former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas has tipped his old side to record a 3-1 victory against Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash.
The Gunners saw off Ligue 1 outfit Rennes in the last round, securing a 3-0 win at the Emirates to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first meeting in France. However, they go into the match off the back of a damaging away defeat to Everton in domestic action last weekend. Meanwhile, opponents Napoli emphatically dismissed Red Bull Salzburg 6-1 on aggregate to set up Thursday night's heavyweight encounter in north London.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Nicholas stated: "[Arsenal's] home form is excellent, so I am pretty confident when we play at home. I have not been confident and never will be with this team defensively. They do not know how to defend.
“Unai Emery – please just play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette," the 57-year-old went on. "He said how they are a strong combination, but he is not playing them together. I don’t get the decision to play Mohamed Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Nicholas concluded that his former club would secure a 3-1 result to take with them into the return fixture at San Paolo Stadium the following week. Such a lead would be vital for the team, with 70% of their points in the Premier League having come on home turf.
Their woeful performances of the road have hampered their attempts to seal a top four finish and could prove to be their undoing in European competition, adding weight to the importance of this week's first leg against I Partenopei.