Even though Sagna recently spoke about how the Gunners hope to make it to the Champions League final, Wenger’s team could have even been eliminated considering Dortmund managed a late win against Marseille. Also because of their 2-0 loss, they are now going to have to face one of Barca, Real, PSG, Bayern or Atletico in the knock-out stages.
The game started off with Napoli looking a whole lot stronger and more determined. Mertens and Pandev look to get along very well which caused Arsenal a lot of problems right from the beginning. Cazorla on the other hand looked totally out of focus for the Gunners. Higuain who should have been Arsenal’s player if things would have gone according to plan during the summer puts a lot of pressure on Koscielny and Mertesacker but the two defenders manage to hold their own. It seemed that Wenger’s players were not as motivated as the Italians. Giroud looked a bit tired and Arteta looks a bit jaded like some of the rest of the team last night. The first half ended with no goals being scored.
Arsenal managed to balance the game in the second half. Jenkinson got some decent runs but failed to deliver any precise crosses. With 60 minutes gone, Armero misses a great chance to score after losing Jenkinson on the way. Fortunately for the Gunners, the Colombian was not concentrating enough to manage the first goal of the game. Napoli continued to pressure their guests but nothing noticeable happened. Ramsey came on for Cazorla. With 15 minutes to go, former Real Madrid players, Callejon and Higuain get past Mertesacker with the latter scoring his 4th Champions League goal of the season with an excellent left footed strike which gave the keeper no chance.
One minute later, just after Wenger made a defensive move by sending in Monreal to replace Rosicky, Arteta received his second yellow card and was sent off. The final minutes of the game were incredible. With Dortmund scoring their winning goal against Marseille, Napoli had increase their advantage to goals. Callejon got a last minute assist from Insigne and put the ball into the net but it was too late to make a difference.
The game ended with Dortmund and Arsenal making it through the knock-out stages, unfortunately in that order but all things considered I think all Gooners were pretty relieved just to be in the knockout phase at all. Facing a motivated quality side like Napoli at their home with a crazy crowd was never going to be easy and so it proved, so while Arsenal could have done better I don’t think it is a case of they should have done better.