The highlight of the first half was a glorious chance presented to Olivier Giroud which the keeper saved and the non stop fouling on our players..
Finally the referee had seen enough and booked a couple of the Napoli players, much to their disgruntlement….
Back to the Giroud chance, maybe had he looked up and seen Flamini bursting through, he’d have played the ball square for him to tuck home… Easy after the event eh.
There was also a slight moment of madness from Wojciech Szczesny when he tried to chip Higuain to pass the ball back to Koscielny but the ball landed straight on the forwards head. Thankfully, he headed wide…
Jamie Redknapp tried to lambaste him for committing such a gaff, and for rushing out of his goal prior to that incident, however, Thierry Henry, who was in the pundits seat with Redknapp, soon negated any kind of criticism towards our young Pole.
Halt time and 0-0, mainly thanks to our defenders.
Giroud was involved again early into the second half when a ball through the middle - the race was on between him and the Napoli keeper. The latter won with ease…
Rafa Benitez made changes and with them came a bust of life in the home side and on the 72nd minute, Napoli went 1-0 up..
This was the moment which cried out for the introduction of Theo Walcott but that moment didn’t come and there was no chance that it would as just minutes later, Mikel Arteta was off for an early bath after being shown a second yellow card on the night. I know some fans on here last night thought it was a soft second booking but when a player ‘tackles’ from behind and the opposition player goes down like a sack of potatoes, that will always be a booking in Europe….
So down to ten men, Wenger left things as they were, Ramsey and Monreal were already on for Cazorla and Rosicky.
Napoli tried all they could to get the second and third that they needed, especially after news reached the players that Dortmund had taken a 2-1 lead and on the 93rd minute, they got their reward but it wasn’t enough..
2-0 we lost and second place in the group meaning we now face one of either Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG or Real Madrid.
Per Mertesacker said at the end of the game:
We were always on the back foot, we took a little break today I think but we will be back on Saturday.
It’s always the same, you give 10% less mentally because we knew we were through.
Well actually, they weren’t until they’d secured the right result and because of that over confident approach, they didn’t really turn up and play.
One thing is quite evident and has been now for a few weeks and that’s how tired some of our players look. Arsene Wenger is expecting far too much from certain players. He can’t afford to play them week in, week out and expect them to perform at the highest level. This period in the league calendar is hectic and if he continues to play the same players each week, they will start dropping like flies with injury andi If he doesn’t trust who he has to fall on, then in January, he needs to be busy.
Now the players have just two days to recover physically and mentally before facing Manchester City….
I’ll leave the dissecting of the game for the comments section….
Have a good day all…..