Ok, everyone. Time to breathe a bit. Despite the shaky start and the horror-show that is the Napoli defense, the partenopei managed to break free of their losing streak and put four past Lazio. Unfortunately, even in the aftermath of a fantastic victory and a much needed three points, there's still a bit to fret over about this Napoli side. But let's start with the good stuff, shall we?
It was a great solo goal from Gonzalo Higuaín to get Napoli started. The Argentine created his goal out of nowhere, taking the ball up the center before heading to his right. He did very well to keep off the immense Michaël Ciani -- that man is built like a tank -- to slot in his shot from a tight angle. Just lovely.
The second goal wasn't nearly as pretty, but it was probably nice for Goran Pandev to mark his 300th Serie A game by scoring, especially against his former side. This time it was the Lazio defense that went to pieces. Christian Maggio headed on Higuaín's cross, but the biancocelesti just couldn't manage a clearance, and Pandycakes managed a turn to poke in Napoli's second.
Then it was Pipita again for the third, again demonstrating strength and skill. Lorenzo Insigne started the move with a nice little header, and Pandev put in the perfect through-ball to set up Higuaín. He cruised by a Lazio defender to go one on one with Federico Marchetti. The goalkeeper seemed to know he stood no chance against his compatriot, with Higuaín sliding it into the bottom corner.
Lazio made it scary once more when Keita left Armero on his ass and scored in the 88th minute, but Ziggy put things out of reach with a pretty little goal off a ball from Dries Mertens.
Own goal, boo!
You can watch again and again and still not be certain how, exactly, Valon Behrami managed to stick the ball in the back of his own net, just moments after Pipita put in the opening goal. Pablo Armero didn't help much, standing around with his mouth wide open as Antonio Candreva put in the cross. The Napoli defense just couldn't deal with it and somehow, Behrami wound up putting it past Pepe Reina.
Something must be done. I'm not sure how much longer it is until Camilo Zúñiga comes back, but Napoli's reserve Colombian has become a positive liability. In the first half alone, Armero allowed Candreva to strip him of the ball twice, with the attacker going for goal both times. Fortunately his shots were inches wide on both occasions, but it could've been much more disastrous. As Vincenzo Montella put it, we can't count on scoring four goals every week.
Defense, in general
Defense isn't sexy but dear god, it's also not sexy to watch your side's defenders falling all over themselves every time the opposing team so much as breathes in their direction. And what's happening to Behrami? In addition to his own goal, at the start of the second half Hernanes made Valon look absolutely foolish -- and it wasn't for the first time in the game, it's just an excellent example. He simply twisted and left Behrami struggling, slipped on by and put in a shot. Again, it was fortunate the shot went wide, because otherwise this match could've been much, much worse.
I love Ziggy. Love him to pieces. But there's no vice-Callejón, and it's starting to show. Napoli need him fit and healthy, so he can keep scoring goals like he was at the start of the season. It's possible that Dries Mertens can play on the right, we've seen it already this season. Should Marek Hamšík be healthy enough to start against Udinese, perhaps Rafa should give Ziggy a rest, and let Mertens stand in his place. It might give Callejón a nice kick in the pants, as well.*
*Yeah, you caught me. This was written just after the first half. All hail Ziggy! He did oh so much better in the second, getting into dangerous positions and, you know, scoring. But still, Rafa, the poor little guy could probably do with a rest rather than 90 minutes every week.