|Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal skipper, was sent off as the Gunners lost to Napoli|
I thought before the game that when Arteta and Flamini play together we don't seem to play as well. I said a few weeks back that it was either one or the other in terms of who starts. Arteta, despite playing in a more attacking role whilst at Everton, is so used to playing in the deep lying role for us that he seems to forget that with Flamini holding back, he can get forward more. That in turn effects our play when it comes to dictating the game. Mikel Arteta was even sent off, his second of the season and another debatable and perhaps harsh decision. That was to disrupt what had been up to then, a solid but far from convincing performance.
The goals were sloppily conceded as well. Higuain was allowed to turn too easily and then find the net whilst Callejon somehow managed to get in behind in the dying embers of the game and lob Szczesny. Carl Jenkinson, who had put in some confident displays over the past 2 games whilst Sagna is out injured, looked a little dodgy and Napoli took advantage of that. Instead of focusing on a striker in January that could potentially upset the rhythm of the team, I think we need a right back. Sagna is yet to sign a new deal so getting a player on board in that position I think is key. That would mean we could then send Jenkinson out on loan for some valuable consistent game time. Santi Cazorla was another man that didn't have a great game. He's looked a different man to last season and apart from glimpses against Dortmund and Liverpool at home he's been far from his best, I really do hope that he doesn't suffer from the dreaded 'second season syndrome' which is looking likely now. He is being played out wide rather than in the middle but even so, that's where he operated so successfully for Villarreal and Malaga previously.
It's incredible to think that 3 teams all finished on 12 points in our group and more incredible that a team with that number of points in the group stages have crashed out of the competition. It truly was the Group of Death. Poor old Marseille is all that's left to be said, finishing on 0 points as they lost every game.
More importantly though is Man City at the weekend. All of a sudden I'm feeling less confident that I originally was for this weekends game. Man City have been in formidable form at the Etihad this season so it'll be a very tough place to go and get a result from. I really hope that the players don't suffer mentally from last nights defeat. They're a close knit group though and knowing they qualified and are still top of the Premier League should put any doubts out of their mind going into Saturday's game.
The teams lineups:
Napoli: Cabral, Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Armero, Dzemaili, Pandev(57), Behrami, Callejon, Mertens, Higuain.
Subs: Colombo, Uvini, Britos, Insigne(57), Cannavaro, Inler, Zapata.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky(75), Cazorla(67), Ozil, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal(75), Wilshere, Ramsey(67), Walcott, Bendtner.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN)