Napoli prove 5 plus 1 equals 10

Napoli v. Juventus was billed as a “top of the table clash”. It was supposed to be a “newly revived Juventus” who were owners of the “best defence in Europe” against a “stumblining Napoli” side. And if the pundits were to be believed, Napoli’s slip to Inter (at the Giuseppe Meazza, which you might still know as San Siro) was the sign that Napoli were more title pretenders than real contenders. But thanks to three goals and three assists for Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Napoli blew the doors off Juventus and left them looking like a clapped out old truck.

Anyone who has watched Juventus this season knew that their supposed defensive prowess was a fugazi. Prior to yesterday, they’d only let in 7 goals in 17 Serie A matches, true, but they had an xGA of 18. Plus they allowed 13 goals in 6 champions league matches, including three to Israeli side Maccabi Haifa and six to Portuguese side Benfica. And the performances weren’t even close in the Champions League. Juventus were a club on a hiding to nothing. And it took just 14 minutes for Napoli to hand it to them.

Kvara hit an overhead kick which Szczesny did well to parry but Osimhen was there to head it home. Khvicha won’t get the assist but this was the first of three goals the two players would create for each other.

Di Maria hit the bar with a long range effort for Juventus just before Kvara scored the Napoli 2nd. I would call it a “sweeping move” or maybe even a “beautiful bit of holdup play” if I wanted to be generous to Juve but I don’t. It was calamitous defending. A long ball was clipped in, Osimhen literally ran a circle around his defender, the entire Juve defense collapsed on him but somehow they did so cautiously, and left Kvara wide open in the middle of the park. Osimhen just rolled him the ball and he slotted home past Szczesny. The supposed best defense in Europe looked like a bunch of amateurs.

Napoli have their own penchant to leak stupid goals and sure enough, Juve clawed one back through Angel di Maria. It was a basic one-two pass which had been cut out by the Napoli defense but the ball bobbled and Napoli defender Min-Jae Kim was left looking like his feet were stuck in quicksand. Di Maria placed the ball well, giving the Old Lady some hope as the two clubs went in to half time.

Napoli keeper Meret was called upon to make a save from a long range shot at the start of the second half but did so easily. And while it looked for a minute that Napoli might be a bit nervous Osimhen won a corner from a long ball and on the corner Rrahmani scored a bold lash from Kvara’s corner kick.

From this point on, Juventus looked like they didn’t know what to do. Khvicha has the uncanny ability to both dribble past players and also to just stop and force the entire opposition team into a moment of indecision. He reminds me of prime Alexis Sanchez in that regard. Because he’s so dangerous on the dribble, players give him space and are even afraid to close him down. As a result, he makes it look easy at times and the fourth goal was one of those times. With all the space in the world, Kvara just side-footed a little cross, Osimhen beat two Juve defenders and Szczesny and headed the ball in easily.

Juve were comprehensively beaten at this point. Osimhen was removed to rest him for more important fixtures and yet Napoli had a fifth: a simple long ball from di Lorenzo to Elmas, an easy cut back to his left foot and Napoli had the fifth. There was probably a hint of luck to that one since it was blocked but it wasn’t undeserved for Napoli because Juventus had given up.

The result takes Napoli 10 points clear in the title race and AC Milan should close that to 7 points with a win over Lecce today. And if you’re a fan of a good story, Napoli is the story. They haven’t won the Scudetto since 1990 when they had Maradona in the team, they just recently renamed their stadium after Maradona, and they have the most exciting one-two punch in Kvara and Osimhen since Maradona and van Basten. Northern teams have dominated Italian football for over 20 years (Roma was the last team south of the Rubicon to win the league) and, again, a Southern team hasn’t won since Napoli in 1990.

I just implore you, if you’re a fan of high octane, flashy, fun football, come watch Kvara and Osimhen, and stay to cheer them on to win the Scudetto. I bet it’s the most fun you’ll have watching football this year*.


*unless you’re a Gooner and they win the Premier League!


  1. There’s 5 players of different degrees of Arsenal connection/interest that play for Juventus: Vlahovic, Szszesny, Locatelli, Rabiot and Chiesa (my personal favourite player at the Euros and I wanted him at Arsenal). All very decent players on paper IMO. Bad coaching, bad chemistry or just overrated?

    I see Vlahovic wasn’t playing either? Is he injured or just dropped?

  2. Strong rumors that Chelsea have swooped in and grabbed Mudryk for essentially full asking price. 70M up front and 30-40M add-ons. Which is mental in multiple ways. Not sure he’s worth anywhere near that much and yet one more example FFP being useless if Chelsea can drop this much in a Jan transfer period.
    But we still need an attacker to cover in case of injury to one of the starters and to help rest them. Hopefully Edu had a Plan B in the works.
    And in other news, Rashford is more productive than a washed up CR7, and United are a better team with him leading the attack. Duh.

    1. Mudryk himself can still swing this our way if he simply says no to Chelsea. I’m holding out hope that’s the case and Arsenal were right about his character. If he decides to go to Chelsea after all this then he was never honest about his desire to play for us and I say it’s good riddance if he’s really that two faced. Arsenal themselves can still up the ante and match Chelsea’s bid as well. This is not over.

      A word about Chelsea. I don’t use the word “literally” very often but Chelsea’s transfer policy is LITERALLY to throw more money at players Arsenal wants to buy than Arsenal are comfortable doing. It’s mad, it’s maddening, it shouldn’t happen but it’s being allowed to happen.

      You know what else is mad? Running with the ball for 20 yards from an offside position, being flagged offside, but then not being offside because you didn’t actually touch the ball. It’s a horrible decision. It works out in our favor but I do NOT want to see the game being refereed that way.

      1. We’ll see on Mudryk. If indeed he chooses Chelsea, a club recently/closely associated with the leadership of the country that just invaded his, then yeah, good riddance.

        That was a ridiculous offside non-call. Sure, the City players should have played to the whistle, but Rashford was wayyyy offside and definitely interfering with play.

        1. I am bitter about Mudryk. He wanted Arsenal but he wanted to leave Ukraine more, and Shaktar told him he couldn’t if he didn’t accept the Chelsea offer. I do get it from his POV but as an Arsenal fan, he’s dead to me now. Chelsea have also indavertantly ruined his career. He’ll be under all the pressure in the world now and he’ll get put right into a struggling squad with a cloud over its head. He’s not ready for that. He’ll get chewed up and spit out at Chelsea just like Pulisic, Werner, Ziyech and so forth.

          That’s 6 points MUFC has collected against teams in front of them at home based on incorrectly overturned refereeing decisions. They’re “back” and so is Howard Webb!

          1. I think Boehly thinks if he buys everyone we want, we’ll trade with him. We’re going to laugh so hard when he offers Mudryk for Saka in the summer. And then cry when Edu doesn’t hang up the phone.

          2. Word I saw is Chelsea offered a 7 yr contract at nearly twice the wages Arsenal was offering. Can’t say I blame him if that is true.

          3. I think it’s a 7 year deal so that they can squeeze it in under FFP. But the personal terms are not what made this break their way.

            Arsenal are left with a short term problem. Now we need to start over with a different player and have limited time. I still think the right play is to stay the course and not panic buy. Keep the big picture plan, and don’t rush into something half baked.

            Yeremy Pino? Kauro Mitoma?

            Maybe make a run at Rafa Leao in the summer.

  3. I think no need to panic at all. He is a good young player but definitely not a GBP 100m player whatsoever. He is playing in a position which has no shortage of competitors. And the YouTube eye test appears to show him as a Pepe-style counter attacker of some but not overwhelming talent.

    I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be Raphinha now. A player with a fixed valuation, that Barcelona are known to be willing to get rid of, fits into our style of play effortlessly and has that complementary character.

    Or maybe Asensio who can play both wings or upfront to cover for both Saka and Eddie.

    1. Someone along the lines of Asensio would make sense. We have a good attack with Jesus coming back and Balogun returning next year. We don’t really need a top of the line(and very expensive) attacker. We need a versatile backup ASAP.

    2. I am afraid your eye test failed, though. Pepe is just real fast, has a flair and a nice shot. On the other hand, his decision making doesn´t stand out, his game-creating ability is bang average and he´s terribly one-legged (used to be a GK until 14, that is something which you cannot change properly anymore), not to mention positioning in some phases of the game. He is good for the Ligue 1, not so much for the PL. He was bought mainly thanks to Raúls´ notepad full of contacts (with a touch of scaminess).

      Mudryk on the other hand is much more complex and natural, has all the qualities Pepe has. However, he doesn´t have any of the Pepe drawbacks, on the contrary, those are his qualities… His explosiveness is massive. We have been following him closely for 2-3 years by now and he is supposedly a generational talent (of course, many fail to fulfill the potential). It is a great risk, at the same time a huge potential he will be some game-changing player.

      The saga is bitter, all the Mudryks twerking meant nothing when the money came (I expect the players agent also did his job. Mudryk is just a 22 years old guy entering the big theatre of football…). Really hope Chelsea will fail to qualify for the CL and EL and their strategy to stack 10 attackers and 15 wingers on high wages will get back at them.

      1. In my view what Pepe lacked was the desire and motivation to adapt his game to what was required of him. He could have worked on his weak foot. He could have worked harder off the ball. It was all there for him, and he just didn’t go for it. That’s what ruined his Arsenal career. That’s why I love to see the little improvements from players like Martinelli and Nketiah. They don’t have as much natural ability as Pepe, but they have the desire to keep developing and in the end that matters more.

        I completely agree with you that Mudryk has all the talent, probably even more than Pepe. Honestly I had to bite my tongue really hard when he got Walcott comps from folks here (by the way another terrific example of a player who just never developed). The only question for me is, does he have the mentality it takes to learn from his failures and adapt? At Arsenal he would’ve had a much better chance. I think he knows that. I think it’s killing him to have had to sign for Chelsea (with the alternative being staying at Shaktar). Potter’s system will not be conducive to expressing his talents and will expose his issues with ball retention. He will never escape the price tag.

      2. Sure, I haven’t watched him beyond a couple of CL matches so I can’t make a qualified opinion beyond youtube- or maybe I am just being salty.

        What I am driving at though is that though, is that his position is hardly impossible to find alternatives which can do the job to 95% at 1/3 the price with more proven pedigrees. Because what Arsenal is looking for now are back-ups that can supplement and challenge the first-team, not to address any obvious problem positions in the first 11.

        Unless we are losing Martinelli or Saka (touch f****ing wood), Mudryk seems like the wrong profile and an inefficient deployment of transfer funds(not that I care how the Wal-Mart Corporate Empire spends their money).

        We have two what you would call generational players on both wings already, with another two at central defence and midfield. Arsenal does go in for these generational talent potential types- Lokonga, Saliba, Martinelli, Odegaard. But the pricing for these guys have been so sensible and reasonable so far that Mudryk just seems jarring.

        Last night’s first half was amazing. Odegaard is now above Cesc in my head ranking of Arsenal midfield greats.

  4. I hope Napoli wins the CL.
    If osimhen stays fit, it’s a possibility.
    They are probably a top 5 team itw, don’t get that credit.

    I am really surprised mudryk chose to go to Chelsea.
    He is probably 18 months away from being a superstar on the pitch.

    Being behind Martinelli and slowly integrating into the league aside from joining PL contenders was a much better option.

    Now he will be expected to get Chelsea out of the mud as an expensive player which isn’t something he is ready to do yet.
    The pressure of the price tag, the fans, the media would be insane.
    It’s a potentially career breaking move.

  5. i have a fear that zinchenko will be destroyed by kulusevski today. hopefully, arsenal will be ball-dominant and be able to hide zin. we’ll see.

  6. Doc, et al.. you need to chill on Mudryk.

    Mudrky (and his agents) made a financially rational decision to quarduple his pay over the course of a 7-year contract (8 and a half years, according to some reports). It has nothing to do with honesty. Gosh, not one of us is walking away from that in the name of corporate love for somewhere we havent yet worked. I totally get the lad’s decision. And from Shakhtar’s point of view, they played the market very well. They quoted ridiculous money, publicised Arsenal’s interest, lifted their skirt at Chelsea, and the west London club duly approached.

    And you know what? We also played the market well, and in our best interests. We left the table when things got ridiculous, and Chelsea financially bigfooted their way in. I’m fine with that. And as much as the prospect of getting him excited me, I’m totally fine with Mudryk making the best FINANCIAL decision for him. Is it the best footballing decision? I say no, and not just because I’m a gooner. Let Chelsea stockpile forwards and take a hit on offloading them for beans. This is from football writer Matt law, on Twitter:

    “By my reckoning, Chelsea have an entire team of forwards either permanently at the club, due to join, loaned in or loaned out: Mudryk, Nkunku, Felix, Sterling, Havertz, Pulisic, Ziyech, Aubameyang, Broja, Lukaku and Hudson-Odoi. This is unsustainable. They also bid for Noni.”

    Pardon my French, Tim, but that’s a f****** ridiculous way of running a club. We would be slaughtering Edu if he was all over the place like that. And it shows that football’s regulatory regime is completely broken.

    Yeah, I’m bummed that we missed on Mudryk, don’t get me wrong. Way I see it, we could have alleviated our CF shortage by having Martinelli play there now and again, and deploying Mudryk wide left. What a mouthwatering prospect. We could also have played him wide right and taken some of the load off Bukayo.

    And I’m pissed off that it’s Chelsea. Havent forgotten Ashley Cole and never will. Or how they financially doped their way to success, and buried some of Wenger’s best years under a pile of cash. I like the Chelsea brother, Kante’s Inferno, who dips in here now and again, but I find them to be a horrible club. Last week we talked about Americanisms. You know an Americanism I’d like? Caps and controls on financial doping. We gooners talking about FFP after Mudryk runs the risk of sounding like sour grapes, but FFP has become a joke, hasnt it?

    Oh well. Let’s give the love instead to Reiss (injured) and ESR (returning).

  7. Beating the scum in their backyard is a very hard thing to do. We havent done so in nearly a decade. I love it when we do the business, after other results have gone our way. I’ve lost count of the times we’ve fallen, precisely here.

    While we mourn the loss of one Ukrainian, dig if you will the football intelligence of Zinchenko. OMG, he was all marvelous fluidity today. What is he, exactly? I’ll tell you what he is… a total footballer.

    This result feels like a watershed moment in this title race.

  8. I agree Claudeivan, Zinko was outstanding today. Whole team was amazing. I’m sure Mikel is “satisfied” with the 8 point gap!

  9. Well, well, well….

    Looks like our clubs are intertwined in a transfer saga once again. I can’t say I’m too enthralled by the prospect of Mudryk. But hey, between you and I, he’s not the best nor most interesting left wing/forward on the market. Rafael Leao has little over a year on his contract and if you watch Serie A, then you know this guy is the real deal. Plus, I just like how much he enjoys his football with his ever smiling face. Kinda reminds me of Kante. Would do well on your team. Pretty physical player, stretches offences, great off ball movement, intelligent decision maker. He does require fine tuning on his short/long passing technique.

    I don’t think this is going to impact you guys all that much. Salud to finally playing great football again and potentially walking to the title. Part of the reason I follow arsenal is because in the early to mid 2000s you guys were one of the few English clubs that rain or shine played the game. Its great to see flow and swagger back in your play. Pep in his most recent press conference threw a tantrum and all but conceded that Arsenal may just be title winners. I believe if you open up the gap to 10pts, then it’s all yours. Honestly, unlike 2014/15, you have a squad full of youth and vigor, with more ways than one to score.

    As a chelsea fan I may envy the skill and results, but really I find myself most longing for the patience Arsenal as org displayed to get there. You only have to look back at threads on this same forum to see how dire it all was only a 2 years ago. We didn’t give Sarri a chance to build, Lampard, nor Tuchel. I fear we may not give Potter a real chance either. Not all of these guys have the same skill level, mind, but one thing they all tried to do was wrest player power and control a volatile dressing room. As good as Arteta has been, he would probably look like incompetent fool if he had our squad.

    1. A temperate, reasoned and positive comment, and I thank you because it reminds me not to lump all of you in with my hatred for your club that I honestly just will never shake. You seem like a great guy and I’m glad to have you onboard.

      Leao would be a real get. He draws Thierry Henry comps and I can see why. He has the build, the stride, the pausa, the ball striking and the ruthlessness. He would develop all of that in an optimal way under Arteta. The problem is the fee is likely to be astronomical, around 150 million British pounds or 200 million Euros.

      If you want to see Arteta with a poorly built squad, look no further than 2019-20. That was the definition. We lined up with your cast offs (Willian, Luiz) and asked them to be key cogs. We finished 8th and looked terrible. But the foundations were being built. Analysts who watched closely could see it. Other coaches could see it. Players could see it. There are quotes from Mourinho in 2020 about his tactical acumen, similar quotes from Pep, and many others. Former players like Mustafi and Mari who didn’t make the grade were sending him flowers on Twitter or interviews after leaving the club. His former players at City raved about his impact upon their development. Twitter tacticos I trust we’re immediately impressed. The signs were there.

      I’m not so sure about Potter being in the same bracket as that. Dr Zerbi took over his Brighton squad and within a few months has improved how they play offensively with the same players. I think Potter can organize a very good possession based side but I doubt his ability to create a positive atmosphere where attacking football can flourish. And that’s with a perfect recruitment strategy which Chelsea clearly lacks. He will be given time, but not much of it. By next fall his head will roll if things don’t improve dramatically.

    2. ha! i knew you’d come around here; but i honestly thought you’d be gloating more. i understand your being underwhelmed at this signing. it’s a shit-ton of money for a player who may be exciting on youtube but isn’t going to make chelsea significantly better. arsenal, being ball-dominant, means i believe he’d have an even less impact at the emirates. our team tends to camp out in the opponent’s final third meaning he won’t have space to run in to. all of the videos i’ve seen of mudryk were with him having space to run into. i haven’t seen any highlights of him posing a viable threat in a compact and hostile environment. rafa leao, however, would be worth every penny. he’s simply a better soccer player than mudryk and would be a better fit for either arsenal or chelsea. i don’t think mudryk is better than gabriel martinelli or mason mount. a fully fit emile smith rowe is probably just as good as mudryk.

      the problem chelsea has is they need a center forward. when giroud left chelsea for milan, i was sure that your team would go after harry kane. he would have made chelsea significantly better than they are. when you consider all of the money they’ve spent on attacking players they simply didn’t need, it would have been an easy transfer. instead, they re-signed lukaku and that was an unmitigated disaster, as tuchel lacked the patience to re-integrate the big belgian, not to mention kane is simply better. now, you’re stuck with kai havertz who’s a cam trying to lead the line. in fairness, i have always like havertz but at a club like chelsea, he shouldn’t be asked to play out of position unless it’s an absolute emergency.

      arsenal need another center forward too. i don’t think gabriel jesus will be back until very late in the campaign, if at all. eddie is good cover but can’t play every game from now til the end of the season. i mentioned that i’m jealous of the man united loan signing of wout weghorst. he’s super-talented, he was cheap, he’s competent, he can lead the line, and he’s 6’6″! it would be lovely to be able to give eddie a breather or to bring that guy on when teams are parking the bus late and arsenal need a supplemental aerial threat. if arsenal liked him enough, they could have bid for weghorst before everyone was beginning to appreciate how good he was.

  10. Sorry I meant 20/21. The prior year was when he was appointed and played counterattacking football to lead us to an FA Cup.

  11. Chelsea needed a younger, better midfielder more than another forward. But it does seem like Boehly basically told them to go get whomever seems to be the hottest item on the market.
    And no, I don’t really blame either Shaktar or Mudryk. Not with the significant differences in terms on offer. News this morning that Shaktar donated 20M of that fee to the war effort. Good for them.
    As well as we played yesterday, still feels like we need an additional backup or two in midfield and on the wing. ESR should be a help there, but hard to say how long it will take him to get back where he was. And it’s unclear if Reiss ever will.
    At this point, feels like we have a pretty strong shout for the league. Seems silly to risk that by not bringing in the backup resources.

    1. chelsea have a better midfielder. it’s just that they’ve asked kai havertz to play center forward. if you consider that lukaku cost £100+ million, and either pulisic or werner, who both cost £60+ million they could have signed harry kane and been a top 4 contender for the next 8+ seasons.

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