Aaron Ramsey feels Arsenal will improve their wretched away form after establishing a 2-0 lead against Napoli in their Europa League quarter-final.

Ramsey put the Gunners in front at Emirates Stadium on Thursday and Kalidou Koulibaly deflected in Lucas Torreira's drive to double their lead.

Arsenal could have taken an even more dominant position to Naples next week, with Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wasting late chances to extend their advantage.

Despite Arsenal having only won twice away from home since November, at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League and Blackpool in the FA Cup, Ramsey is confident about Unai Emery's side moving into the semis.

"We've won away this season so we're capable of doing it," Ramsey said to BT Sport.

"We've not done well of late but we're confident we can put it right, six games left in the Premier League and we want to finish the job, finish in the top four and get through to the semis.

"We've started the first leg really well so hopefully we finish the job and get ourselves in the hat for the next round."

Napoli should have claimed an away goal but Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski missed the target, with Ramsey taking nothing for granted about Arsenal's chances of booking a semi-final spot.

"Obviously to keep a clean sheet, couple of goals, a lovely way to start the first leg," said the Wales international. "Delighted with that, we suffered a lot against a good team, we had to dig in - they keep the ball well but a great start to the quarter-finals.

"I should have scored again in the second half but these things happen, we're delighted with a clean sheet and a couple of goals going into the second leg with a little cushion. But we know it's a difficult place to go.

"It's always important to start European games with the first goal as otherwise it's difficult. They're one of the best teams in Europe and we suffered in the second half but dug in, helped each out and we're looking forward to the second leg.

"I think they were unlucky not to go through in the Champions League, they're a quality team and second in Serie A so they're tough to play against. We know from a few years ago it's difficult there but we're ready and gave ourselves a great opportunity. We need to stick together and see out the quarter-final."

Aaron Ramsey's strike and Kalidou Koulibaly's own goal earned Arsenal a 2-0 home win against Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Ramsey finished off a stunning move to open the scoring and Lucas Torreira's drive deflected in off Koulibaly to double Arsenal's advantage before the break at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

Serie A side Napoli struggled to impose themselves on the contest, although Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski had big opportunities, and Carlo Ancelotti's men have work to do in next week's return.

Koulibaly made a superb pair of blocks to repel Ramsey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles but he could do nothing about Arsenal's excellent opener in the 14th minute.

Ramsey's interception sparked a tremendous team move, the midfielder swapping passes with Mesut Ozil before Alexandre Lacazette and Maitland-Niles combined beautifully to set up the Wales international for a placed first-time finish.

Arsenal scored a second in the 25th minute, Torreira turning into space outside the Napoli box and seeing his drive take a decisive deflection off Koulibaly.

The Gunners continued to pile forward but, after Lacazette miscued and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tested Alex Meret, Insigne missed a great chance before the break.

Napoli improved after the interval with the offside flag ruling out an Insigne goal and Koulibaly forcing a fine save from Petr Cech with a powerful header.

Arsenal pushed for a third, though, with Meret superbly keeping out Ramsey's drive and Nacho Monreal planting a free header over the crossbar from the resulting corner.

The impressive Meret made a double save to deny Sead Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles and Zielinski missed a huge opportunity to score a crucial away goal for Napoli.

And Ramsey and Aubameyang should have made the visitors pay, wasting late chances to leave Napoli with some hope.

What does it mean? Advantage Arsenal, but work to do

Arsenal's dreadful away form means they can take nothing for granted ahead of their trip to Naples. Unai Emery's side have won just twice away from home since November and those victories came against Huddersfield Town in the Premier League and Blackpool in the FA Cup. Napoli will surely be much better than in their limp London display, too.


Ozil makes Arsenal tick

The enigmatic Ozil was at his bewitching best in the first half, producing an individual performance at odds with his ineffective showing in a Premier League defeat at Everton last time out, during which he petulantly hurled his coat out of the dugout after being substituted. Ozil faded after the break but it was still a surprise to see him again withdrawn by Emery midway through the second period.


Insigne miss could be costly

Napoli's attackers were starved of service for the most part, but when a big chance came the way of Insigne on the stroke of half-time he missed the mark. Jose Callejon found Insigne in a fantastic position but his effort soared over Cech's goal. An away goal could have been key and the second half would have been a different prospect at 2-1.


What's next?

Napoli are at Chievo on Sunday, hoping to keep their extremely slim Serie A title hopes alive, with Arsenal away to Watford the following day. The sides then resume the tie next Thursday.

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette and his team-mates are well aware of the importance of securing a home win in their Europa League quarter-final against Napoli.

Unai Emery's side have been in fine form in front of their own fans this season, winning their last 10 league games at Emirates Stadium, but they have struggled on the road, losing five of their past seven matches across all competitions.

Lacazette is aware of the disparity in form and is looking to make a statement when Carlo Ancelotti's side travel to London on Thursday.

"We know we are better at home than we are away, so tomorrow is really important for us," he told Wednesday's news conference.

"We also know we can get a good result away, so both games are going to be important for us.

"Last season we fell just before the final so this time we want to go forward. We have to play well in this game.

"On Sunday we played badly [against Everton], all the team. We didn't do what the coach asked us but we still have confidence.

"We know we're still in the race for the Champions League in the Premier League, but we want to win trophies so we are confident."

Mesut Ozil is still a leader for Arsenal despite throwing his coat in frustration during the team’s Premier League loss at Everton, says Alexandre Lacazette.

Although enjoying an improved run of form of late, Ozil struggled to make an impact in Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park and was substituted by Unai Emery.

Ozil later hurled his coat in the direction of Emery and Everton counterpart Marco Silva from his seat in the dugout as staff from both teams clashed on the touchline, with the player's actions drawing criticism.

The former Germany international is one of Arsenal's captains and Lacazette feels that status should not be affected by the incident at the weekend.

"He's still a leader, even if he knows he doesn’t have to do this," Lacazette told reporters ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Napoli.

"When you are upset for some reason, sometimes you do things you don't have to do. That's something for him but today everything is fine."

Arsenal head coach Emery indicated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may be passed fit to face Napoli after recovering from illness.

"Yeah, Auba is a good player," Lacazette said of his fellow forward. "We play well together but I like to play with all of my team-mates, not only with Auba or any individual players.

"If we score a lot of goals, it's because our team-mates put us in these positions and give us good balls to score.

"If they give us these good balls to score, then I'm okay."

Ahead of Napoli's visit, Arsenal have won seven home games in a row in all competitions.

But they continue to struggle for consistency away from Emirates Stadium, winning only twice on the road since November, those victories coming at Huddersfield Town in the league and League One side Blackpool in the FA Cup.

"First at home we have the fans, so of course we feel more confident," Lacazette said. "Sometimes we want to do something but some days it's not as we want, you can't play as you want. That's it.

"I wouldn't say I am their favourite player but I have noticed that the fans like me. I am grateful for that. And it makes me want to give my best for them and my team-mates."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is available to start for Arsenal in their Europa League quarter-final against Napoli, says Unai Emery.

Illness restricted Aubameyang to a place on the bench for Sunday's 1-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

Aubameyang came on as a half-time substitute as the Gunners' poor away form continued, but he could return to the side for the first leg against Napoli at Emirates Stadium.

"He had a small problem, he has been taking antibiotics for his sickness," Emery told reporters on Wednesday. "For tomorrow he's getting better and can start."

On Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka, who are recovering from foot and groin injuries respectively, Emery added: "We are going to decide tomorrow."

Mesut Ozil drew attention for appearing to throw a coat in the direction of Emery after being substituted against Everton, but the Spaniard opted not to address the issue directly.

"Our focus is the match, taking confidence and being together, being calm when bad results come," Emery said when asked about the playmaker.

"We are on a good way but each match now is going to be very important. We are with our target, we know it is going to be very difficult. The best thing for us is to be together and strong, calm and with clear focus."

Napoli are arguably the toughest team Arsenal could have faced in the last eight but Emery is relishing the chance to test his mettle against Carlo Ancelotti.

"I think it's 50-50. Napoli have a big history like us, they're second in the table," Emery said of the Serie A side. 

"They're playing very well, they came from a strong group in the Champions League. They were very competitive. It's going to be difficult for us but we have confidence. We need to be very consistent in two matches.

"I have a great respect for every coach. Ancelotti is top. His career is amazing. For me, my challenge is every day and every year. All I did in my past is only for taking experience. I need to make a new future.

"This match is a big match at the level we want to play. It's a big test for us. We want to play against the best teams, Napoli are one of them.

"We need to be consistent each match. Each match gives a lot of information. Our balance is getting better but isn't enough. We need to win tomorrow. If we won't concede chances to score it's important.

"They have good performances in the season. We need to be very, very competitive in 90 minutes. Our idea is to win and not concede goals. We are prepared for extra time or penalties. It's going to be a very, very good game tomorrow."

Juventus' title celebrations were delayed for at least a week as Napoli kept their slim Scudetto hopes alive with a 1-1 home draw against a 10-man Genoa.

Dries Mertens' fine first-half finish ensured Carlo Ancelotti's men did enough to temporarily prevent the Bianconeri from being crowned champions for the seventh successive season, but the failure to turn one point into three will be a keen source of frustration.

The hosts looked set to cruise to victory when Belgium international Mertens broke the deadlock six minutes after Stefano Sturaro's sending off for a crude tackle on Allan.

Genoa, though, hit back through Darko Lazovic in the shadows of half-time and battled bravely for a result that lifts them further away from relegation danger.

Napoli, runners-up to Juve last season, appeared nervous in the early stages as their former forward Goran Pandev threatened on three occasions inside the opening 20 minutes.

Genoa lost momentum when ex-Juve midfielder Sturaro saw red for his late, lunging challenge in the 28th minute and the hosts took advantage through Mertens' splendid curling finish into the bottom-right corner.

An unexpected twist came three minutes into first-half stoppage time as Lazovic rewarded Genoa's persistence, the 28-year-old volleying home from Pandev's intelligent cross to the far post.

Piotr Zielinski passed up a good chance to restore Napoli's leader soon after the interval before Ionut Radu blocked a dangerous Arkadiusz Milik header.

Romania gloveman Radu later denied both Kalidou Koulibaly and Mertens as Napoli's increasingly desperate attempts to manufacture a winner went unrequited.

Their next league assignment is a trip to Chievo in seven days' time, but Juve can wrap up the title before then by winning at struggling SPAL on Saturday.

Lorenzo Insigne has cast doubt over his Napoli future by conceding that an offer may come in that he "can't refuse".

The Italy forward has spent his entire career with Napoli and, following the departure of Marek Hamsik, is now club captain.

But Insigne hinted at some unrest by revealing he could be tempted away from the Serie A outfit.

"I am 28 years old [this year] and it could happen that I receive an offer I can't refuse," he told Corriere dello Sport.

"I've proved what I am worth and there are people around who appreciate me."

Insigne's nine league goals have helped Napoli to second in the table, but Juventus are on the brink of securing the title.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are still in the hunt for the Europa League crown, though, and face Arsenal in the quarter-finals.

 

There were grave concerns for Fabian Schar as both sets of players rushed over to the motionless Switzerland defender during last month's Euro 2020 qualifier.

Schar was knocked unconscious after clashing heads with Georgia's Jemal Tabidze – opponent Jano Ananidze using his fingers to prevent the Newcastle United star's tongue from obstructing his breathing.

Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina also suffered a serious head injury and received on-field treatment during a Serie A match against Udinese.

There was also the incident involving Anthony Lopes during Lyon's Champions League clash against Barcelona – the keeper injured as he dived at the feet of Philippe Coutinho.

In all three scenarios, the player was cleared to return to the field by team doctors after a three-minute assessment as per FIFA and UEFA protocol – not before Ospina collapsed unconscious during the game and Lopes left Camp Nou clearly struggling – with Schar playing on, much to the dismay of brain injury charity Headway.

FIFA medical committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe has previously dismissed the idea of a 'concussion bin', which would allow teams to make a temporary substitution for up to 10 minutes while a player is assessed – fearing it would be abused by managers.

As FIFPro's calls for change grow louder, attention has now turned to the introduction of independent doctors, rather than team doctors, to decide whether a player with suspected concussion should continue.

"We have been discussing that. In theory this is beautiful. But you must note, an independent doctor does not know the player," D'Hooghe told Omnisport. "For example, if a player reacts slower than he does normally, how can a neutral doctor judge that? That's why we talk about competence and responsibility.

"There is a matter of responsibility, and that remains with the team doctor. We can never take over. If we were to take the responsibility, the team doctor could say 'they didn't want to take my advice'. That's not what we want. We want to assist the team doctors as much as we can – with the three-minute rule and the video assistance. But the judgement must be done by someone who knows the player – team doctor."

As talk about concussions and head injuries dominate headlines, D'Hooghe said: "The problem is not as big in our football as some other contact sports. For instance, in all the World Cups since 1998, we found one concussion on 20 matches.

"I was looking at the Premier League where they play more than 400 matches. They have about 20 concussions every year. Concussions and head lesions are for a total of four per cent of all the injuries in England. In Germany, 10 concussions on 300 matches. If you compare that to the NFL, where they have 330 matches and 200 concussions. When you compare it to the AFL, where it's played by 18 teams and they have 120 concussions.

"The problem is real but it's not to be compared to some other contact sports. It's also interesting to note, in female football we have twice as much concussion problems as male football. It happens 13 times more on match level than on training level."

Brendan Schwab – executive director of the World Players Association – warned "this is a battle FIFA cannot win" amid the risk of a "catastrophic" secondary injury if a player who has sustained a head injury returns to the game.

"When concussed, it's not the time for the player to make a decision as to whether they should continue in a game. That is a decision that needs to be placed in the hands of independent medical assessors who have no duty other than to act in the best interests of the player," he said. "There needs to be independent medical assessors on the sidelines. But we do expect this to be resisted because it is resisted in other sports. We now have independent medical assessors on the sidelines of the NFL and it's only because the NFLPA fought for that right. It was a battle.

"Now the suggestion that the club doctor knows the player better than another doctor, again, is not a medically-based comment. What we do know, however, is that the club doctor who is employed by the club has a conflict of interest. That conflict of interest needs to be minimised and voided in circumstances when dealing with head injuries.

"If FIFA doesn't change, what we will see is football leagues at the national level collectively bargain their own variation of the laws of the game. In Australia, the knowledge is clear that the clubs as employers would be in breach of health and safety requirements, and acting against the wishes of the unions, by putting players back into the game when they're clearly in a vulnerable position. What's to prevail there? Laws of the game or national health and safety laws? National health and safety laws have to prevail. It won't be a defence to any action for an employer to say 'we were simply providing an unsafe work practice at the behest of FIFA'."

Schwab added: "Teams should not be disadvantaged because they are adopting best practice when it comes to treatment of players who have suffered a head injury. A basic concussion protocol will take anywhere between 10-30 minutes. Now, it's essential temporary substitutions are permitted to enable a player to be properly diagnosed.

"Any concerns that the system could be abused are immaterial when considered against the knowledge we now have and the risk we are continuing to see players submitted to in circumstances where that risk is easily avoidable."

Roma chairman James Pallotta reacted furiously to his side's 4-1 defeat at home to Napoli, demanding that Claudio Ranieri's players "stand up and show they have balls".

The Giallorossi were on level terms at half-time on Sunday after Diego Perotti's penalty cancelled out Arkadiusz Milik's second-minute opener for Napoli.

But goals from Dries Mertens, Simone Verdi and substitute Amin Younes condemned Roma to a fourth defeat in five games across all competitions.

Head coach Claudio Ranieri began with a victory over Empoli following his arrival on March 8, but since then he has suffered back-to-back defeats against SPAL and Napoli, and Pallotta pulled no punches in his assessment of the club's predicament.

"Everyone knows what's gone wrong this season and that's why we had to make changes," Pallotta told the club's official website.

"But the time for excuses is over. The performance against SPAL wasn't acceptable and today was even worse."

Roma face Fiorentina at Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Sampdoria, with seventh-placed rivals Lazio just two points behind them in the Serie A table.

Pallotta called for his players to take responsibility and help the club push for a place in the top four, which is four points out of their reach.

"These players have to stand up and show they have balls," said Pallotta. "No more alibis for anyone."

Claudio Ranieri expects his players to mount a "strong response" when Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli visit Roma on Sunday. 

March has been a damaging month in Roma's campaign, with three losses in four games, including a Champions League exit at the hands of Porto. 

Premier League winner Ranieri won the first of his two games at the helm, but it is the 2-1 loss to SPAL last time out that he is keen to put right as they host second-placed Napoli. 

Ranieri is looking forward to facing Ancelotti, who he says has implemented a more direct approach at Napoli since replacing Maurizio Sarri in May last year. 

"Facing Ancelotti is always a pleasure, but I hope it'll be a positive match for us," said the former Leicester City boss. 

"Napoli have changed with Carlo, they're much more direct now and go straight to the point, getting the ball to the forwards. 

"We must be very careful with the lines. You can press, yes, but it's only done when you have 90 minutes in your legs. Otherwise it's better to be sensible and press at the right time. 

"I talked to my players strongly [after the SPAL loss] in Ferrara and I expect a strong response. A coach does everything for a reason. 

"I expect big things from those who play for Roma. I expect answers with character and personality."

Saul Niguez has replaced Fabian Ruiz in Spain's squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Malta.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul was a surprise omission from Luis Enrique's squad, with Napoli's Fabian called up for the first time.

But Spain confirmed on Monday that the 22-year-old, who has made 28 appearances for Carlo Ancelotti's side across all competitions this term following his move from Real Betis, has pulled out of the squad due to fever.

Fabian's injury means a reprieve for Saul, although there is still no room in the 23-man party for Real Madrid playmaker Isco, who has endured a difficult season with Los Blancos.

Jaime Mata, Sergi Gomez and Sergio Canales joined Fabian as new faces in Luis Enrique's set up, as the former Barcelona coach aims to freshen up his squad following a disappointing showing in the UEFA Nations League.

David Ospina has been discharged from hospital and given the all clear after collapsing during Napoli's Serie A match on Sunday.

The Colombia goalkeeper underwent a scan after cutting his head in a collision with Udinese winger Ignacio Pussetto at Stadio San Paolo.

Ospina, who is on loan at the Serie A side from Arsenal, received treatment on the pitch and initially played on before collapsing just prior to half-time.

The 30-year-old spent the night under observation and Napoli confirmed further tests came back clear.

Ospina has withdrawn from his country's upcoming friendlies against Japan and South Korea as a precaution.

"David Ospina was this afternoon discharged from the clinic where he had been admitted last night for a series of investigations and specialist visits," read a Napoli statement.

"All tests are negative. The visits [ruled out] any problems.

"The player has been advised to have a few days off and will not respond to the call-up of his national team."

Napoli have confirmed goalkeeper David Ospina will be kept in hospital overnight after he collapsed on the pitch during Sunday's Serie A match against Udinese.

The Colombia international, who is on loan from Premier League club Arsenal, suffered a head injury in the game and will remain under observation for 24 to 48 hours after undergoing a CAT scan.

Ospina collided with Udinese winger Ignacio Pussetto while attempting to gather a ball driven across the penalty area.

After suffering a cut to his head and receiving on-field treatment, the 30-year-old shot-stopper initially played on, only to fall to the ground unconscious later in the first half.

 

David Ospina has had a CAT scan after being involved in a collision during the game. The scan has come back clear but Ospina will stay in a clinic overnight for observation.

— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) March 17, 2019

Ospina was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Alex Meret in the 44th minute and taken to hospital for tests. The club later announced via Twitter that his CAT scan had "come back clear".

Napoli went on to win 4-2, with second-half goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens keeping them second in the Serie A table.

Ospina has started 14 league games and six Champions League games this season. Napoli travel to play Ospina’s parent club Arsenal in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals on April 11.

Napoli expect to be without Lorenzo Insigne and Vlad Chiriches for the next three weeks due to respective thigh and hamstring injuries.

Forward Insigne - an unused substitute in Thursday's 3-1 Europa League loss to Salzburg - was diagnosed with a strain in his right thigh after undergoing medical tests.

The Italy international is set to miss Serie A fixtures against Udinese, Roma and Empoli, as well as the Azzurri's Euro 2020 qualifiers with Finland and Liechtenstein at the end of March.

Napoli head to Genoa in league action on April 7 before travelling to Emirates Stadium for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Arsenal four days later.

Chiriches is scheduled to be out for the same length of time as his team-mate after pulling his left hamstring - the defender was substituted in the 78th minute of his side's European defeat in Austria.

Meanwhile, midfielder Amadou Diawara has been diagnosed with a navicular fracture in his right foot and will be assessed again in three weeks.

The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals is:

Arsenal v Napoli

Villarreal v Valencia

Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt

Slavia Prague v Chelsea


The first legs are due to take place on April 11, with the return matches a week later.

 

The draw for the semi-finals is:

Arsenal/Napoli v Villarreal/Valencia

Benfica/Eintracht Frankfurt v Slavia Prague/Chelsea


The first legs are due to take place on May 2, with the return matches a week later. The final of the competition takes place at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on May 29.

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