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 on "Report: Napoli 2-0 Arsenal"

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Bring on Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, or PSG!


Could’ve been much easier…


Well we are The Arsenal. We like making life difficult for ourselves. Tradition.


I’ll call that shooting ourselves in the foot.


Match Fixing anyone?

A Yank

We fixed ourselves.

The officiating was shit, but we were worse.


Arsenal didn’t want to break tradition of coming second. it was fun UEFA

Remember the invincibles

Seriously. One goal and we could’ve killed it. But our strategy was to play for a draw and honestly I felt it was a strange strategy. The last 16 game could go just like the last few seasons. Oh well.

Remember the invincibles

On the bright side. It would be a good tie.
On the negative side. Probably won’t be another one this year


i really cant get why walcott didnt feature, much better than putting ramsey in as a right winger. first goal is basically ramsey not tracking back. sorry to be a moan, but this was a worrying sight.


Hopefully Athletico…Kos has room in his pocket for Costa?


I have reconsidered, I want Arsenal to draw Real Madrid just for the spectacle.


You’ve got to beat those thundercunts at some point if you want to win. Whoever we get won’t be happy seeing us either.

I’m betting it will be Real, an all-Welsh showdown is something the marketing folks at UEFA would fancy. All in all I’m more disappointed that Dortmund won’t be playing ManU or Chelsea in the next round.

“The type of goal you pay big money for.” Heh, ‘Blogs still has a crush on Higuain. Let it go man.


Don’t forget a matchup against Real would mean the Wizard of Ozil returns to the Bernabeu

Bolarinwa Mayowa

I would never understand wenger’s decision to keep our most dangerous weapon on the counter on the bench for the entire duration of the game especialy toward the end of the game when the (napoli) were throwing everything the’ve got on us, even Gnabry would have made a difference.

jenkinson lol

might have been due to arteta’s red card.

no point bringing in an attacking option, when being compact as a team became the priority.

also, as he said, you had to weight the option of going for a goal against being knocked out of the competition if they had scored on a contra/counter attack.



Breakdown of the final 16 by country:

Eng – 4
Ger – 4
Spa – 3
Ita – 1
Fra – 1
Other – 3

Dial Square Chairy XI
Dial Square Chairy XI

Bayern on realising that they might be facing The Arsenal?

Parisian Weetabix

Hitler listing in English the number of goals that Giroud, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Rosicky, Cazorla and Walcott will each score over two legs against any one of those sides?


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.


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.


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.


Never looked this ordinary in quite a while. too some extent Arsene failed us today.

Remember the invincibles

Should’ve taken off arteta and giroud. Arteta had a bad game,


Yes yes let’s start a petition to get him to apologise. Fuck’s sake.


Oh come on.


theo should have started, with ros ok left, we were always gunna have to counter


Theo + Jenks is not a combination you want if the point is not to concede. You need Sagna for that.


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


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.


Arteta simply needs to step up his game. Sucks to loose. I feel sick

damien joyce

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.


As the Bishop of the Arseblog Diocese, I declare tomorrow a day of fasting and player for Sagna to be fit for our trip to the Middle East Lands.



aussie gooner

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


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.


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.

aussie gooner

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

Remember the invincibles

I don’t fancy playing Neymar in this kind of form. Plus messi would be back by then. He loves to tear us a new one


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

Remember the invincibles

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.

Perry S.

Moving on now.

Dick Swiveller

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.


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


If only it WAS on Sunday…..


oh my bad!! That was wishful thinking


We lost top spot not the match




We were so shit. Ozil looks off his feet.

Barcelona or Bayern? Or Real Madrid next…


Anyone see Dortmunds winner? Biggest troll goal I’ve ever seen lol


How much does Mandanda get for letting that one in?


Barcelona, Bayern, Real, PSG or Atletico next. It is a while away and a lot of things can happen between then and now. Whoever we end up with BELIEVE!


Holy fuck! Thank God that cunt blew up right away.

I need beer. A lot of beer.

Remember the invincibles

He saved us some stress didn’t he


That was something else, that ref ending the game so quickly. Bizarre I thought.


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.

Parisian Weetabix

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.


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!


Interesting to see who we face in the knockout stages

gooner odst

Blatter’s balls bring bad bollocks… its gonna Barcelona mate trust me.

A Yank

Nope, Munich again.

Or not. But I’m 100% certain it will be one of those two.

gooner odst

yeah definately one of the B’s but were going to have to get all our ducks in a row to push on.


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.


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

A N Other

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.

He's got not hair but we don't care...
He's got not hair but we don't care...

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

jack jack jack

Bollocks. It was our players’ faults for thinking they could walk it.


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.

jack jack jack

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.


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.


Arteta and Flamini should never start together. Too defensive and dont bring enough going forward


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.


Sorry I meant that to be a separate comment, not a reply to this one – not sure how that happened.


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


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.


Time wasting and bringing on Monreal when we’re 1 nil down? Do we not want to come first???


At that time, we were going through on top. Then Dortmund’s late goal dropped us to second and Napoli out.


I’d still expect them to try win the game and not accept defeat with 20 mins left


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.



jack jack jack

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.

A Yank

You know if we have to lie in the bed we make, it’d probably be good to stop shitting in it before hand.

gooner odst

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.


Wenger: we go to NAPOLI to WIN.

great job.


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


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.


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!”


Top of the league!


Here here!

green arse

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.


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


Higuain will watch the rest of this tournament on the telly. Giroud will be playing.

Virginia Goon

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.


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.


Sagna is a big miss but we’re through, we have to improve if we want to come through this month well that’s for sure.


I want Real 🙂


ref was a cunt, yeah arteta wasnt brilliant but how fucking biased do you have to be?


Bye bye champions league


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!


Man City could be a long game be the looks of things. Walcott has to start.

Pakistan Arsenal!

Pathetic performance. Sucked big time.


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

We’re gonna get Barcelona now. Again.

jack jack jack

We always get Barca. I hope we do the cunts.


I’d rather Barca than Real (or Bayern). They’re not the same team they were before, we could beat them this time for sure.


I have full confidence that on our day we can beat Barca. But not with an anemic performance such as tonight’s.


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.

Dick Law

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


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.

Arshavins Girdle

Woah. Thats a bot OTT.


Jesus are you that over the top when we win too? Balance mate, balance. I agree it was a shite performance but come on.


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.

Arshavins Girdle

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?


To be fair his first red against Palace (I guess?) was ridiculous. The one he got today was a bit stupid though…


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.


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.


We, were utter, shit… Nothing more nothing less. Just made our lives so much more difficult


Why why why why WHY did we not bring Theo around the 60-70mn mark? Can somebody please please explain the rationale?

jack jack jack

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.


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?!


Because Theo only wants to play striker and doesn’t track back, that’s why!!


With all due respect to Giroud, we need to bring in a new striker who has more pace and better finishing.


You mean Walcott?

Samuel L Jackson

Didn’t Callejon score and not Insigne?


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!


Only positive from this qhole thing was seeing Thierry Henry in the sky sports studio


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).


Our substitutions sent the wrong message to the players


If we don’t start scoring goals when we get the opportunity, This might be the beginning of the end