Arsenal are through to the UEFA Champions League for the 14th straight time despite losing 2-0 to Napoli on the final day. The gunners needed to avoid a 3-0 defeat to their Italian opponents to progress to th enext stage irrespective of the result from Marsielle.
The Italians needed to win by 3-0 to be sure of progressing but a mere 1-0 win over the gunners with Dortmund failing to win at Marsielle would mean that Rafa Benitez’s men would progress. Tagged the group of death, this group lived up to the billings as three teams finished 12 points apiece with the other bitting dust in all 6 games played.
Arsenal hopped to finish top of the group and thus needed to avoid defeat in Naples but all went down to the drain with Higuan showing Arsene what he misses in lacking his services. Higuain’s goal epitomed Arsenal’s attack all night: Toothless.
With 16 minutes left to play, the Argentine forward twisted, turned and shot. Goal. Disbelief was activated in the Arsenal ranks. 3 minutes later, Arteta got his 2nd yellow and a Red and the Arsenal were down to 10 men.
The gunners held on till the last minute of the added time where they conceded another. The whistle was music to the ears as another goal would have doomed Arsenal to the Europa League.
The gunners lacked pace going forward and clueless in attack. the defence worked their socks off but were undone by those two late goals. It has been long that Arsenal conceded 2 goals in a match (against Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates).
Giroud was poor and it is high time we make Arsenal a full fledge attacking force. I wonder why Walcott didn’t come in to bolster the pace and bite of the Attack. I believe that the best of Ozil would come when he plays with Walcott.
Enough of ranting, we have the final 16 teams: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Athletico Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, AC Milan, Galatasary, Olympiakos, Manchester City, Schalke 04, and Zenit.
So we wait for Monday where we know our fate. We are poised to face one of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG and Athletico Madrid. Ghen Ghen!! We may have faced one of AC Milan, Galatasary, Olympiakos, Schalke 04 and Zenit if we had topped.
I would end today with a Wenger quote:
We prepared well and were concentrated but we were a bit in between ‘do we attack or do we defend’. It is difficult to cope with that problem. In the second half, I felt that our legs went a little bit and Napoli were sharper physically than us. Saturday was on our mind, we knew to come to Naples would be difficult. We have done our job now we will give absolutely everything on Saturday morning.
That is the frustration because you feel there was room to do better but it could have been worse as well tonight.
Let us face the domestic hill of usurping Manchester City and Chelsea. We must recover before Saturday.