Report: Napoli 2-0 Arsenal

Report: Napoli 2-0 Arsenal

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud

Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, Bendtner

Arsenal did just enough to secure safe passage to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, although their 2-0 defeat away at Napoli allowed Borussia Dortmund to leapfrog them into first place in the table.

Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne scored for the Italians either side of Mikel Arteta’s second half red card but it wasn’t enough for the Serie A side despite the fact they too finished on 12 points.

The first half was a very tight and scrappy affair from the off. Roared on by a fervent home support, Napoli came out of the traps quickly obviously told by Rafael Benitez to press high up the pitch.

It initially proved effective, Gibbs and Jenkinson each conceded possession in the first ten minutes allowing Napoli to break quickly. First Pandev shot low after Mertens’ raking cross-field pass before Mertesacker made a last ditch interception to stop Armero’s ball reaching Higuain.

We created the best chance of the half on 22 minutes. A neat passage of play involving Ozil and Flamini freed Giroud in the box, but from a tight angle on the left he could only hammer his effort straight at keeper Rafael.

After that the game was a succession of offsides and free-kicks. It wasn’t a case of the referee and his assistants being whistle happy, there was just a lot of fouls by both sides breaking up play.

Rosicky, Flamini and Arteta gave as good as they got, but they, Ozil and Cazorla also got picked off from behind and across the body on numerous occasions. Belgian Dries Mertens and Swiss Blerim Džemaili both got deserved yellows.

Despite Mertesacker and Koscielny impressing there were a couple of hair-raising moments before the break. Maggio, taking advantage of bad positioning by Gibbs, latched onto a ball on the right wing only to loop a ball over the advancing Szczesny.

The Pole then nearly gifted Higuain the opener when his lazy clipped ball was instinctively headed goalwards by Higuain. Thankfully the Argentine’s effort creeped past the post.

Ozil had a sighter at the start of the second half before a hectic ten-minute spell in which the ball blustered from end-to-end without the scoreline ever being threatened.

When the left-back Armero did get behind Jenkinson his tame shot at Szczesny was met with howls from the terraces. Napoli continued to look menacing with the bright Callejon flashing an effort just wide and pint-sized substitute Insigne all darting runs and impish energy

Arteta and Giroud picked up innocuous bookings before Aaron Ramsey came on for Cazorla with 23 minutes remaining. Six minutes later Napoli got the breakthrough.

Higuain had scuffed his lines moments earlier but given the ball on the edge of the box by Callejon he spun on a sixpence and hammered a low effort low across Szczesny. It was an excellent goal. The type of goal you pay big money for.

Rosicky was immediately replaced by Nacho Monreal as Wenger looked to shut up shop; a nice idea until Mikel Arteta picked up a second yellow within a minute of the restart for another innocuous challenge in the centre of the park.

The last ten minutes were as much about events at the Stade Velodrome in France where Borussia Dortmund were looking to secure a victory over Marseille. With three minutes left on the clock the Germans got the goal which saw them leapfrog the Gunners and even though Insigne looped in an injury-time strike to double Napoli’s lead it wasn’t enough to prevent heartbreak on the terraces of the Stadio San Paolo.

As the referee blew for full-time Arsene Wenger didn’t know whether to smile or not. He’d watch his side come very close to throwing away all their hard work with a performance which for 73 minutes was textbook. A strange evening but one which ends with us qualifying from the group stage of UEFA’s showpiece tournament for the fourteenth successive season.

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190 COMMENTS

  1. We needed a draw to top the group and we came almost failed to qualify. We were not good enough in the second half. May be Theo could have made a difference with is his pace.

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    • Compared the seasons past when we used to come second because we took matches lightly, this season we gave it a real go and put in some good performances but are second because the opposition was top top class.

      Hope resting Ramsey, Wilshire and Walcott pays off on Saturday.

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      • What is the point of resting Walcott for the whole game, especially when we needed his pace so much and Ozil looked leggy. If I am not wrong, he has not played a full 90 mins since he came back from his injury. So, 20 or 30 mins would have done him good today.
        Speaking of changes, why does Wenger always make changes around 70 mins? It was obvious that Napoli were putting us under the pressure right after the break.

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        • true, but flamini guards the flanks pretty well so with him in the team its solid enough, plus theos pace as a threat helps to remind the opposition full backs they can’t get too ambitious

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        • I agree. I wonder if we won’t see Theo stasrting in a the big games until Sagna’s back. Great combo but Theo and Jenks might need some time before it stops giving me the jitters.

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    • I felt he was weak link tonight with Jenks beginning to struggle when pressure put on too, but for me Arteta is struggling with some games where teams pressure us deep into our own half, felt Walcott should have started over Cazorla who has yet to light up since coming back.

      With regard the next round, I don’t think it matters, we have been getting toughest draws all season (this group, Chavs in Lge Cup and Spuds in FACup), so I can only imagine we’d have pulled Galatasaray inc. Drogba even if we had topped the group.

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  2. fucking shocking, what was arteta doing tonight? where was he for the first goal? why is tackling people from behind when on a yellow?

    Arsene said you can’t said a team out and tell them not to lose 3-0. that seems like it’s exactly what he did

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    • Very questionable to see the whole team timewasting when we were 1-0 down. Why didn’t we go for it, bring Theo on for counterattacks (we only made 2 substitutions), so as to play Galatasaray and not fucking Barca in the next round when we’ve just completed a heavy December schedule? Very questionable gameplan.

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      • And Napoli too, between their first goal and Dortmund’s goal they didn’t bother to attack either. Couldn’t they have considered the remote possibility that Dortmund could win their game against 10 men in Marseille, and therefore that they had no time to waste to score 3, which is exactly what happened? Very questionable from them too.

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      • the hardest team we would have drawn had we finished first would be a very out of sorts Milan or Schalke. Now the easiest team we can draw is PSG or a very in form Athletico Madrid.

        I would rather play Barca and finally try to knock them out

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      • I was surprised that Theo wasn’t brought on early in the second half when Napoli started mounting pressure and leaving lots of space behind that Giroud couldn’t exploit for his want of pace.

        As usual, Wenger knows best

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    • The higuain goal was incredible. Would’ve loved to have him. Maybe bid for him in January. Would be a great signing. Half a chance and goal. What a player. As much as I admire giroud for his hold up play, his goal scoring is not quite there.

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    • Why not criticise Flamini for the goal too, they were both in CM tonight…and no way did that tackle deserve a yellow, neither did his first really, considering how little contact he made.

      Aside from that, he was a little off the pace at times but generally solid, I think it’s easy to forget how comfortable we were for much of the game when they get a quality goal and then we switched off for their second.

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  3. I know this will not be popular, but I think this team needs a wake up call. If this team plays like this against City, then I fear. Against the Toffees we were second best for large chunks of the game, and today too.

    I was disappointed when at the dying moments of the game, the players looked like they were just contented with going through. Being second means there is a realistic chance that We’ll draw either Real Madrid, Barca or Bayern.

    Well we need to regroup and prepare for Sunday’s game. COYG

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  4. I don’t want to sound like Fat Gooner, or (God forbid) Sir Balls, but I genuinely fear the wheels might be starting to come off. Desperately need Walcott on the pitch.

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    • It’s just one game, let’s not be too hasty – although I see your point, as we were pretty poor against Everton. It seems teams have cottoned onto the fact that Arsenal have changed their strategy, and that we now defend deep. Everton did to us exactly what we used to do to teams a few years ago; dominated the game without creating any clear cut chances.

      Back then we were accused of that being our only plan, with no plan B. Now our plan A has changed, but teams are starting to figure it out. The big test is to see whether there is now a plan B.

      But I have hope. If we get Walcott back that’s another dimension to our play. If we can rediscover that excellent pressing game that suited us so well in the latter stages of last season, that’ll also be a sign that this Arsenal side is flexible and unpredictable. Perhaps this current system is being found out, but if we can use the returns of Podolski, Walcott and Chambo to make a smooth transition to a faster, more streamlined method of playing, it shouldn’t be a problem.

      tl;dr: The wheels might be coming off, but we can make another car. COYG.

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    • Thank god we are not ninth or tenth in the table before these wheels are coming off. When the draw was made a lot of people were fearing the worst as it was without doubt the group of death pretty much every pundit had us out. Guess what we are top of the league and through to the last sixteen with players coming back from injury. Believe COYG!

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        • Bayern for the payback from last year

          Madrid just to rub their faces in just how stupid they were to let Özil go — and to remind a certain Welshman that he can run away to Spain, but he will still be in our shadow.

          Barca for an overdue homecoming, and simply because I think we are due.

          The other 2 are not worthy of playing The Arsenal.

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  5. Oh well, there’s no point in being Porto from 2004 and avoiding all the big teams and winning the tournament in a final no one cared about

    We would have had to play at least one of those teams anyway if we want to win the tournament.

    We’ve qualified, now to make sure we get a draw, or beat Citeh

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  6. Pathetic second half from the team.. I am now genuinely concerned about our next stage chances… We already have the toughest group and next stage are likely to play against barca, real, Munich, PSG etc.

    All this talk about going for win. It was anything but.

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  7. I’ll get a thumbs down, I know but it was both a tactical and player selection error by AW that caused this defeat.

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      • Don’t think it’s anyone’s fault it was just one of those things. From the 20th minute to the 55th minute or so we looked pretty comfortable and the more likely team to score. Their crowd picked up again when their lb broke through and the atmosphere was beyond intimidating at that stage. Higuain’s goal was a class goal all around.

        Wenger possible should have taken action when the alarm bells started ringing but up until the 87th minute we were group winners with things going the way they were in Marseilles. Just an unusual situation to be in all in all, and there’s no point in being upset about facing these teams in the last 16 when we’d just be facing them in the qfs anyway.

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        • I just think we were complacent (something Per admitted post-match), which is unacceptable when it could have cost us being in the competition and has cost us a really tough draw next round.

          We deserved to lose that game and it’s really got under my skin – I’ve seen us throw stuff away too many times and I felt like this team didn’t have that in them. Anyway, I imagine we’ll see our team back properly against City or we’re in for a proper hiding.

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        • I hear you Jack, but it was a tough game tonight made less easy by the atmosphere. We didn’t seem clear on how much to push for a win and imo should have made our superiority count when we were in the ascendancy by pushing harder for a goal that would have killed off the tie. We didn’t though and when they got a foothold in the match again and the crowd rallied there was always a chance of them scoring and it was an excellent goal in the end. But we were still going through as group winners then, and had Borussia not scored late on we would have conceded the 2nd and still won the group. It was a bizarre situation to be in really but spare a thought for Napoli who must be raging they took their foot off the pedal at 1-0 especially considering they scored a 2nd. Wouldn’t want to be in Benitez’ shoes tomorrow. We could and should have won the group but equally we might have ended up playing in the Europa.

          Being honest though I’m worried about the game against City, I’m expecting us to lose it the way everything has worked out for both teams. If we do get anything from the game it would be a massive bonus.

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    • Bloody hell you’d think we were knocked out coming on here. We lost, we had a bad second half. It happens. Champions league is about playing the best teams. If we win the next round we’ll have the confidence we can go all the way. If we can’t beat the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and Bayern then we can’t win the tournament anyway and might as well get it over with sooner rather than later.
      But why fear anyone? We can win whoever the opposition.

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      • I like your comments,why should we think there is any team I the world we cant beat,they why we have been playing recently,apart from tonight (The last twenty or so minutes ) bring on any team,they will face us with fear o f losing against us and they could,that is the very reason why am not worry about our second position.Do you Bacer will handle us now as they did before ? it will not be in the dreams of the Bacer players.Bring them on

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    • I agree, but the error was bringing on Ramsey for Cazorla going into the last quarter. No need to do that at all. Unnecessary gamble that shows Wenger at his worst. Yes, when those gambles pay off and we see beautiful football it is great. But why take the risk of it backfiring, as happened in this game. Arteta was already stretched and became even more so as Ramsey rampaged forward. Our conceding (and thus facing an elite team in the next round), Arteta being sent off, and our conceding again (which will force us into a mental test at a time when that is precisely what we don’t need) were all substantially influenced by that ill-advised substitution. Wenger needs to be more pragmatic. He didn’t do it in the Dortmund home game, he didn’t do it tonight. I hope he does it when something big is on the line.

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    • Too negative, too cautious. We didn’t try hard enough to score at 0-0 and imo could do with a proper striker in times like this. Still it was unusual circumstances, both sides playing for the result at 1-0.

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  8. I’m sorry to put a downer on it but that was fucking dogshit from us. A draw would have put us top, but instead we barely turned up and now have to face one of Bayern, Barca, Atletico, PSG or Real Madrid next round. Per looked visibly upset at full time and I hope he gives them a fucking bollocking for that. Anyway, on to City.

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  9. shower of shit that was, but at least we managed to get ourselves in a position where we can afford to lose but still go through.

    When we set to close games down we need to SHUT IT DOWN! for fucks sake. Hopefully over winter we will refine that technique with players coming back from injury etc. Come May we can celebrate a glorious treble and laugh about how we teased Napoli and Higuain.

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  10. Shooting ourselves in the foot and making life difficult for ourselves, Arsenal style :/ No passion at all. Total embarrassment. I’m sorry but you can’t things lightly

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  11. Just a very dissapointing performance from a lot of the team. jenkinson looks like an accident waiting to happen, ozil offered very little and looks like he needs a break. no out ball. We needed changes and much earlier than we got them. 2nd means a serious test up next. but we are thru in a tough group. time to regroup for our primary challenge which is always the league title.

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  12. The hell is your belief?!?!

    The way I see this is that those first place teams should be saying a collective ‘Oh shit! I hope we don’t draw Arsenal!”

    COYG!

    Top of the league!

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  13. Eamon Dumphy(rte two ireland) makes alan hansen look like a football genius.

    Compare the arteta tackles to mertens tackles and the ref can fuck off.

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  14. Higuain today showed with his goal, why Arsenal were after him all summer…no doubt arsenal need a striker like him, complementing giroud

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  15. Everybody seemed out of it. What was up with Gibbs? My man looked baffled out there, and he’s been stellar this whole year. Massive talent for the future. No doubt we will bounce back Saturday.

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  16. Really pissed off that the team didn’t appear to care whether they got top spot or not. It’s qualifying. Like settling for 4th in the league. Not good enough. Napoli gave us exaggerated respect in the first half, then realised they had nothing to fear from us, so nearly got their 3. We’re not keeping the ball well any longer. Started against Everton and continued tonight.

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  17. Calm down people, this was the toughest group this year, and we qualified equal on points with last seasons finalists (whom we beat by the way).

    The boys are tired, yes, but why play football if you can’t beat the “big guns”? Bring on Bayern/Barca/PSG et al. Lets get behind our boys!

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  18. Shit night. Wenger’s gamble didn’t work. Now those payers are knackered for the City Game.

    We’re gonna get Barcelona now. Again.

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  19. I’m a bit disappointed, too, but hey, we came through from the toughest group ever with 12 points, and we are top of the league. No need to moan, these are good times.

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  20. Performance like this has exposed the insecurities of some of our fellow gooners. Also true colors have been revealed. Back when the draw were made, most of us would have taken a second spot group finish with qualification for the next stage. Time for an introspection ?

    Keep the faith. COYG

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  21. What a load of bollocks. We had a chance to go and get an easier draw by topping the group and we fucking blew it. Stupid from Arteta, as well as all the others on the pitch, and fucking ridiculous from Wenger too. Decent first 45 and then what a shambles. Words cannot described how pissed off I am with this team and Wenger right now. Hope the players pull themselves together and put in a decent performance up at City on Saturday, otherwise if we play like this it’ll be a cricket score. Utter joke.

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  22. My only hope is that this cancels out the 2-0 win over them at home and Arsene stops thinking our best lineup includes both Arteta and Flamini.

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  23. I usually think Arseblog is spot on with most of his thoughts on Arsenal players but I think hes wrong with Arteta this year. Thats his 2nd red and hes looked all over the place in more than a few games. If he was 27 like Carzola I’d say its just a dip in form. Maybe he’s just losing that little bit of edge with age. Just me?

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    • I’ve noticed it too. He’s been ok in most of the matches, but many times midfielders just brush him aside forcing him to commit fouls. And I’m surely not the only one frustrated with that sideways passing. Some have already sold him in January, but I’d say he’s still decent, nothing special though.

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  24. Pathetic second half performance. All the good work done by Giroud and Koscielny was useless to a tired and wasteful midfield. Oh, and, when all else fails, give it to Jenkinson.

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    • I think the rationale was to try and keep the ball more. Especially with 10 men. While Theo would give us a great outlet going forward he wouldn’t help us get control of the game and might have ended up leaving us more exposed. That’s my thinking anyway.

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      • There was absolutely no reason not to bring Theo, unless he’s still ill, which is highly unlikely. If we brought him on in the 70th minute, or even after they scored the goal he would’ve provided pace in attack, something that was very lacking in this game. Napoli would’ve been more careful going forward and pressing us if they knew that he was there waiting to latch onto a long pass or even a loose ball. But Wenger’s reluctant to risk with changes, obviously. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he rest Ozil?!

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  25. What happened to my beloved Arsenal for Godsake?
    Please Mr.wenger,play either Ramsey or Flamini in place of Jenkelson against City if Sagna cannot make it…our back two suffered alot because of him!

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  26. The nervous last 30 minutes were caused by Wenger’s ridiculous tactics and team selection and not buying a striker in August! We should have played theo who has had some cameos and is fresh, perfect for counter attacks. Ideally giroud plays but he can’t play evey fucking game. It doesn’t matter if he’s in the “red zone” or not, mentally you get tired too, how the fuck does he measure that. now the players will be exhausted for the city game and we will be fucked (just like our Dortmund- win followed by united loss).

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  27. No ambition,to go and get the win,Walcott an obvious choice for counter attacking. After the draw on Friday,will just qualifying be an achivement!!!Happy we’re through.Not looking forward to City on Saturday,if we’re not gonna ask any questions of the “bigger” opponents!

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  28. Arteta has been really pissing me off of late. he brings nothing to the team – the combative, pacy, defensive spirit is brought by flamini, ramsey and koscielny, the “cool head” / wisdom is brought by flamini, rosicky, mertesacker. the attacking flair is brought by ozil cazorla and the box-to-box aspect is brought by ramsey and wilshere.

    it says something about how i feel about him at the moment that my first reaction to seeing him get sent off was, “thank fuck he’ll be suspended for the next match”. i know arteta comes in for a lot of praise on arseblog (and many times it’s warranted) but likewise when he plays like shit, slows the play down, breaks it up by taking 12 touches before releasing the ball and jogs, back when we are hit on the break, he deserves to be criticised and skinned.

    at the moment i believe he should not be anywhere near our startin XI. on to city.

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    • Got to say I agree, he is so slow and wants far to much time on the ball, he often plays silly unnecessary passes it players who are already under pressure and was a real liability tonight, should have been taken off. I do like the guy but he seems to be getting more sluggish as time goes on with some off decision making for a player of his experience.

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  29. Really hard game to motivate the players for and we have to remember there is a certain amount of fatigue at this point. Even so, bitterly disappointing.

    Remeniscent of a few years back when we threw away top spot on the last group fixture, drew Barcelona and that was that. Let’s all hope for Althletico. Not sure on tonight’s performance we could beat the other four.

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  30. Not the best performance but we might of took second place at the start, now concentrate on league and put that behind us, Walcott needs to play against city

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  31. It wasn’t a great performance,but we made it through the group of death. In any other group we would have been top easily.
    And isn’t the Champions League about playing the best sides in Europe? Who wants to play Basel, Real Sociedad etc.
    Chin up and let’s give it our all for the Shitty game!
    Come on Arsenal!

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  32. Let’s just look at the silver lining here. If we had lost 3-0 a lot of us would have hoped we came second at least. No need to bitch and complain now

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  33. Cant understand why walcott wasnt playing today, we had 1 shot on target against a team leaking goals. Shame really i feel we were too cautious today, another tough round of 16 awaits

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  34. I am extremely sad!!!!!
    We are going to face a very hard team in the next round.we should have avoided that.A VERY big lesson to Arsene Wenger.PLEASE buy a player like Higuain who can stand almost much of the game but score when he gets 1 or 2 chances.I love Giroud but we can not rely on him the whole season.Why do wenger fail to use Walcot?

    Mesut and Santi have to become more sharp and fight for each and every ball.Oh Jenkison what a player that i can not rely on and trust.We are always in danger when the ball gets him wow he can let us down at any moment.please give a new contract to Sagna and give the pressure off from Jenkison before he let us down badly.

    Our goal keeper have to be very alert.he might have escaped with those stupidities in the last weeks and today but he may cost us our dream!!!he better be more alert and keep on doing his amazingly excellent job with his great characteristics.

    Arteta and Giroud must be aware of silly yellow cards!!!!But the second one for Arteta was so silly from the referee.The napoli players were stopping our move consecutively by foul and the referee just kept quiet.
    Why are the referees so bad for us in the premier league and champions league?i have no idea at all.
    Come on you gunners

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  35. It was the perfect performance until a moment of magic from higuain after 70 minutes. The exact same performance as Dortmund: sitting back hoping for an opportunity on the break. No opportunities came though because the passing was awful. Santi and rosicky, especially are just so wasteful at the moment.

    Very unlucky with Dortmund scoring so late. I think them leading at half time would have demoralised Napoli. Think they realised they could never score 3.

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  36. Very poor second half display and our substitutions were equally as bad.

    Have to say that Arsene got it wrong tonight, we were crying out for Walcott in the second half.

    We committed suicide tonight as we always do in the last group stage game and we are now as good as out, we can’t beat any of the teams we will drawn against, except maybe Athletico.

    Champs League over for this season, let’s buy a quality striker and pacy left winger in January, smash the spuds in the FA Cup and won the double this year!

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  37. OH so its Arteta now then who evert1 is gunna pour the hate onto is it? does a good job most of the season and all last season, gets a dodgy 2nd yellow and every1 is out for his blood? your meant to be FUCKING FANS get behind the team and learn from your fucking mistakes, et al Ramsey.

    its worth bearing in mind Arteta isnt a dm! hes damn good at the role in general but its not his best, so give the guy a break hes a pure pro and this sort of player hat from our own sodding fans sickens me more than the loss.

    yes im gunna get the red thumbs but i dont care, jesus

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  38. What hurts most is not losing to average team but the complete lack of ambition we showed today. We played dirt and looked like we were contended with our game. If we were going to just play for the sake of it and get ready for the weekend we should have done what City had done – play reserves and get on with it.

    A draw with Everton, a good side indeed, but still a game that title contenders winning 1-0 with 10 minutes to go SHOULD win. Now embarassing defeat with mediocre Italian team (Udinese scored there 3 goals a couple of days ago, come on!). A good result from City will get things right again but anything less will be very concerning.

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  39. I think Arteta and Flamini in midfield worked for a large period in terms of ball retention but maybe not when we’re trying to score.

    Arsenal threw that one in the fucking trash guys. We could have been playing Olympiakos or some shit. Should I be preparing myself for a classic blaze of glory exit from the Arsenal?

    Maybe if we grease some palms we could play some wank mid table club from the north west of England whose name I forget.

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  40. Next round will be tough no doubt but thank fuck our players don’t think like the people on here that are writing off our season because of one defeat.

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  41. Today we looked like the old arsenal from the first half of the last season, when we had the ball we didn’t now what do to with it no creativity no drive forward to score and we were punished, big lesson to be learned and wake up call before city game. We are through we will draw against the big guns if we go through to the quarter finals i thing we will make it for the final, if we crashed out let us focus on the premier league with more time to rest between the games if we crashed out. And in January as much as giroud play good this season we need another striker badly different type of giroud.

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  42. Disappointing, but it was our own fault. Looking at the teams we could face, Atletico look the weakest but are still very strong. Real Madrid would be a good match, Bale vs Ramsey.

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  43. arteta flamini partnership isnt working. put oir defence under pressure and isolate our attackers.
    arteta and cazorla are struggling. lets give them a breather.

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  44. cannot believe some of the utter tripe that is being posted right now. were about to have our third game in a week, of course AW is gonna rest some players. qualifying from the so called ‘group of death’ was always the most important thing, whilst also keeping up our progress in the prem. we’ve lost ONE game. GET A FUCKING GRIP

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  45. Why do I feel like the Arsenal of the Last 8years is back? With all due respect Arsene was not up to scratch 2day. Giroud is not Arsenal standard. Thumbs down pls

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  46. All those worried about the draw. Say we were top and played Galatasaray and made it through we’d likely have to face PSG, Real, Barca, Dortmund or Bayern so what then

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  47. Arsenal are slowly but surely losing the momentum and form built up, which is strange considering the players coming back from injury.

    I expect another defeat against the in form City Sat. Then we will have to re-group.

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  48. Wow doesn’t the direction of the wind change real quick? One bad game and the knives are already out screaming for Arteta/Wenger’s blood. Come on it’s almost as if you guys were waiting for this day all season to re-affirm yourselves that “we won’t win anything this year”. It’s just one game and yes it would very much be preferable that we topped the group, but it isn’t the end of the world and this game could very well wake the team up for our next matches against City and Chelsea.

    Against Dortmund at home everyone was questioning why didn’t Arsenal play for the draw instead of going for it, which led us to lose (I do think playing for the draw would have been the right thing to do in the last few minutes then) and today it’s “why are we trying to limit the damage instead of going for it?!?!” Would you have rather risked conceding that third goal on a Napoli break or once-in-a-millennium goal by some unheralded player and not qualify at all? It’s all about perspective people and believe in the team you support or go someplace else.

    Sure it would be difficult to play Barca, Real, Bayern etc but it would push the players to know it will not be a walkover instead of playing Galatasaray, and we can match any team on our day! Why throw in the towel before even a ball is kicked (or the next round drawn)? Come on Arsenal I say!

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    • The point is they clearly went into the game with the sole intention of not conceding 3 goals (instead of trying to win it) and in the end were very lucky not to be dumped out of the competition. That’s not the way to approach a game of this magnitude (even Wenger said this) and I think that’s why people are a bit upset and mystified (including BFG if his end of game reaction is anything to go by). The approach was too negative for a competition of this importance, you don’t win trophies with that attitude, they need to fight in every game, there’s enough quality. It doesn’t take long for negativity to bleed in when results start going south.

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  49. The Arsene knows best brigade will have a field day with me but this game is more proof of Wenger’s tactical naivety. It was obvious that we would probably have to play on the break tonight so why Walcott spent another game “resting” on the bench is ridiculous. Santi Cazorla is also struggling to make a three yard pass at the moment yet he starts again! We just sent a message with the way we started the game tonight that we were there to not lose 3-0 and they knew that they could come at us at will with us having very little threat and very little pace on the counter. Another poor performance from Arteta too tonight who keeps proving that he is not a DM and he is very poor on the ball when under pressure. Shame to see a team this good play so poorly with players panicking and just hacking the ball away and passing back to Szczęsny from free kicks inside their half. This was obviously not a game to go all out attack but if you are at least positive and causing them problems, the less time they are going to be having attempts on your own goal. Disappointing!

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  50. What ever wenger was thinking going defensive was wrong. Napoli wasnt even in a good shape to win us. Arteta and Flamini dont work. Wenger tried it against Man u and we lost. That should have been a lesson. Had we played our attacking football we would have 15 points clear unless Wenger wanted to help Napoli. Arterta had a card and he left him on the pitch and removed Carzola for Ramsey and still Ramsey can do Arteta job as well. Who knows who UEFA gives us next?

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    • Exactly. Some of what I’m reading here is literally a plastic fan thing to say. “in our current form…,” “we’re on a downturn…,” “losing momentum…” This is some real LOL stuff. One effing match away to a club who did everything they can including diving tactics to win it at home. The match against Everton, um last I checked but we didn’t lose. Finally, this was an insanely difficult group and to come out of it with 12 points (same as Chelsea in a shit group), that speaks some accolades. Fuck all, these idiots should just stop watching and show up in May to check out the final results at which point they can bask in the glory or shit all over the club they “support.”

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  51. Napoli wanted it more, that is understandable considering what was at stake. What is football without drama….?
    Bring on Real Madrid I say.

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  52. Once again we Arsenal fans turn into the most craven pack of whingers ever once we see the first setback. And we all think we know better than Wenger all of a sudden. In one game, Mertesacker & Koscielny, whom we’ve been pointing out, and whom the results & numbers have been backing as one of the most impressive center half pairings in Europe have become shit because one of the best strikers in the world happened to turn one of them for a brilliant goal. Koscielny’s constant, heroic putting out of fires goes completely unnoticed. As does the fact that Mert’s positioning saved us on several key occasions.

    We seem to think we have a divine right to turn up at Napoli. NAPOLI! and waltz away with a draw minimum. Never mind the fact that Napoli, egged on by their fanatical crowd, pressed us harder than any other team this season, at least as hard as Dortmund, and harder than Everton did. You don’t just sashay past such pressing. For much of the game we weathered the storm well.

    Some of us are crazy enough to think the reason it didn’t go well is that Walcott made no appearance. Have we lost our minds? Jenks was already under a lot of pressure (which he didn’t shine under, but didn’t crumble as he did v Chelsea) and you wanted Wenger to rob him of any protection whatsoever? How would it have been if we’d then gone out entirely, 3-0, all goals from the right hand side? Go back to tactician school. You’re still not fit to wash Wenger’s feet.

    And finally, look at that group again. LOOK AT IT! Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille. Look at how it ended 12/12/12/0. On the day of the draw any of us would have snatched off a hand that offered us a last-gasp passage in any position, and rightly so. No manager on earth, not Red Nose, not Pep, not Moaninho would have guaranteed us passage out of that nightmare of a group. Christmas is coming. Count your blessings, children.

    Does it hurt to lose and to surrender our top spot? Of course it does. But does that make it sensible to lash out at our manager and players, who have outperformed all our expectations for this year? Do we really need this explosion of negativity? Does anyone want us to be taken seriously when we defend our players and our club from deprecation by supporters of other clubs? By pundits? Can we seriously abuse Shearer and co for refusing to acknowledge we can win the league when we can’t even back ourselves to progress in a two-legged tie against Europe’s elite?

    Man City Saturday, folks. Get your red and white on, and leave the bile behind in your old beer mugs. Even in a successful season there are always setbacks, and there is no reason to believe that this squad, stung by defeat at Napoli, and bolstered by the returning wounded, cannot still find success, look Spurs in the eye for the FA cup, gap Citeh and Chelsea, and take on one of Europe’s top clubs. Do we not say that class is permanent? Let’s act the part.

    COYG!

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    • Bravo, this is the way we as fans should be thinking – its really funny how quick people turn.

      Your point about Theo is so CRUCIAL – people are stating the obvious that bringing Theo on would have done wonders for our counterattack. No shit, his pace always gives teams problems. Under normal circumstances. But no one seems to be bringing up the fact that our young back up RB was struggling as it was, and sending Theo out would have most likely worsened the situation and put additional burden on Jenkinson. But no, people are shouting that Wenger is tactically naiive. These same ‘fans’ were shouting Arsene knows best not two matches ago. Irritating.

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      • Wenger has been tactically naive for years.. I am certainly not a fan that was saying Arsene knows best at any time this season, top of the league or not. Our place in the league has been helped by the demise of the Moyes Mancs, Citeh’s poor away form and Chelsea’s big headed arrogant manager but that position is very much in danger if the manager persists in playing out of form players and constantly playing people out of position. Also someone needs to take this “handbrake” that keeps affecting us and cut the fucking cable.

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  53. To be fair this was always going to be a tough assignment, but it was losing at home to Dortmund rather than away to Napoli which sealed our second place

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    • No, no he didn’t. He obviously knows his players better than us. Walcott hasn’t looked back to his form yet and Wenger probably didn’t want to take the risk. Walcott is a poor defender, and as such, Wenger probably looked towards the veterans first.

      Arteta did have a poor game, but who doesn’t from time to time. No one blew anything, a loss is going to happen at some point. That’s just fact that statistics will prove. How about Ozil missing a sitter? Did Wenger blow it by playing him?

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      • Not back to his form yet LOL, Theo has already got 2 assists in just over 20 minutes! (cardiff & Everton). Some people seriously…

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    • Jenkinson was already struggling on the right, you think bringing on Theo would have helped that situation? We most likely would have leaked a goal much earlier than the last kick of the game, then it could have been a real disaster.

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  54. We’ve qualified from a really tough group, the team has grown and hopefully Arsene can chart a course to further progress. Him and the team deserve more credit for the strides they’ve made this year than some of this ‘second-guessing’ going on here. Despite our mostly excellent form, we haven’t become beasts overnight, and most of us know this. Let’s not forget the highs of this group stage so quickly!

    It’s clear that Wenger doesn’t see Theo meshing with our current playing style and he’s going to have to work on aspects of his own game before he’s considered a starter again.

    Looking forward to a prestige tie up next. 95% of teams in Europe would give up their gonads to be where we are.

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    • Theo started every game until his abdominal injury and we were doing fine. Wenger would rather play people out of position than use someone who has proved he can score goals and provide assists. all this bollocks about protecting the full backs! He played 4 defenders and 2 DM’s tonight!

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  55. Some of the reactions from this game are to funny. It was one game. Yes we were shit but we got equal points with last year’s finalists in easily the hardest group. Man city lose away every other week and their fans don’t seem to give to shits. On to the next game. But we lose one game in the hardest group and everyone is acting like the world has ended. The game against city will be a completely different challenge. Be happy we are through and bring on barca

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  56. For fucks sake, get off Giroud’s back. Anyone see how well he regained and held possession when Jenkinson came under pressure and hoofed away for the umpteenth time? Build up play was slow through Arteta today. Maybe shouldn’t have him and Flamini next to each other, but as the saying goes, Arsene knows. Bring on the spectacle of Barcelona, now’s the time to beat the cunts.

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  57. I’m not critical of the players — every team has days they don’t click. And I’m not critical of the strategy and tactics starting out — we set up to nullify and get a draw, resting Ramsey, who looked very tired last game, and that was sensible given that a draw would see us top.

    The thing that baffles and infuriates me is Wenger’s bringing on Ramsey for Cazorla going into the last quarter. No need to do that at all. Unnecessary gamble that shows Wenger at his worst. Yes, when those gambles pay off and we see beautiful football it is great. But why take the risk of it backfiring, as happened in this game. Arteta was already stretched and became even more so as Ramsey rampaged forward. Our conceding (and thus facing an elite team in the next round), Arteta being sent off, and our conceding again (which will force us into a mental test at a time when that is precisely what we don’t need) were all substantially influenced by that ill-advised substitution. Wenger needs to be more pragmatic. He didn’t do it in the Dortmund home game, he didn’t do it tonight. I hope he does it when something big is on the line.

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    • That is the problem.

      It was a negative approach that merely invited pressure and at some point, it told.

      We should have put more pressure on their backs, instead we adopted an insipid approach that cost us.

      It sends the wrong message to the team IMO.

      We needed someone to add an attacking verve in concert with Giroud.

      We are a bit predictable now with craft players (Ozil, Rosicky, Santi), likely to cut in field or play shot passes where we could have done with a bit of incision behind their line (which were sometimes very high)

      Ramsey for carzola was befuddling. Would have preferred the pace of Walcott instead.

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  58. Timid approach by us.

    Wenger got it tactically wrong. Perhaps again over elaborating with both Flamini and Arteta where a more creative player in either jack or Ramsey would have been better next to either holding player.

    Plus, he should have had Walcott on after the half. I mentioned this to my friend before Arteta was sent off that we were missing an edge up front. Particularly with Napoli pouring forward into our half, sometimes offense is the best defense.

    try as he did, Giroud was simply too slow. He needed someone to play off him with a bit of clip. Being that we were effectively reduced to 4-4-1-1 for most parts, it made sense to have Theo just behind Giroud and playing off him, getting behind their defenders.

    As a plus, Walcott would also have added a bit of speed to cover Jenkinson who was time and again under pressure as Napoli correctly deduced that he was our weak link (not rocket science).

    Squandered.

    We should have been going for a draw at minimum instead reduced (harshly one might add) to 10, we were too willing to settle for the 1 goal deficit.

    We now pay for it by having a selection of teams to face next round that are difficult to say the least.

    With PL and FA cup to juggle, it will put unnecessary pressure granted the whole thing about we have to beat the best if we have to win anyway…but could we manage it better?

    That’s 2 test failed thus far in Everton and Napoli. We will have to gun for it the next to games and throw a bit of caution to the wind if we want to (and should) try and collect all 6 points.

    Wenger was poor today tactically.

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