I swore to a couple of friends that Arsenal don't play for draws. I don't think they played for one tonight, and I'm not convinced that anything was missing from their game either. If you step back you'll notice that Napoli were, quite literally, playing for their lives in the Champions League.
Higuain (who?) got them started, and at that point I think the Italian side smelled the last 16 and kicked into another gear. It reminded me a bit of our game against Bayern in Germany last season. We needed to win 3-0 if I remember correctly, and we got our second right at the end. I was pissing myself, and I'm sure 30 odd thousand Italians were doing the same this evening. Fair play to them, they knew what was at stake and they went for it. It means every goal we scored and every attack we defended in this group, very literally meant everything when it came down to it.
Dortmund, Arsenal and Napoli all ended up with 12 points, which is amazing when you think about it. That means our wins against Dortmund and Napoli earlier in the campaign proved to be invaluable. This "group of death" truly lived up to the hype it was burdened with when the groups were announced a few months back.
The last two losses we've suffered haven't bothered me too much, seemingly because they haven't mattered much. Fair enough, any loss is disappointing and will hurt the team a little, but both losses have seen us continue forward in some way. Losing to Man United saw us still perched atop the Premier League by a few points, while this loss to Napoli sees us make our 14th consecutive appearance in the last 16 of the Champions League.
A couple of things that made me think tonight were Arteta and Walcott. Arteta is still recieving praise from fans, but I can't help but think this is his last season as an Arsenal starter, perhaps even in an Arsenal shirt. His form has dropped from last year when he was the first name on the team sheet. This year, quite frankly, I'd much rather see Wilshere or even Flamini start ahead of him.
You could tell he was frustrated, not only tonight but in his last few games. He's lost a step and makes up for it in rash, clumsy tackles. The Mikel Arteta that joined/saved Arsenal a couple of seasons ago barely got called for a foul. Now he's losing simple balls and diving into silly tackles to try and get his ball back. A fantastic player for a 4th place team, but is he the man to take us to the title?
Secondly, I thought we could have done with Walcott a bit more against Everton, and was surprised not to see him start against Napoli. His pace would have made them think twice about putting men up to attack, and perhaps could have even allowed us to exploit the Italians on the counter attack more often. It makes me wonder whether he's fully fit or if Wenger just doesn't fancy him as much as he did before he went out injured. I do hope to see more of him against Citeh this weekend.
Thirdly, in case you didn't know; Jamie Redknapp is to football what Paris Hilton is to acting. I'm almost glad Sky Sports have him on as a pundit because it makes for a more comedic venture. I can't stand Gary Neville either, but he got a few brownie points today when he pointed out how shit Redknapp is at football in this clip.
The boys in Red & White travel to the slightly less successful side of Manchester this weekend to play the rich boys. I like a few of Man Citeh's players, but as soon as they have that baby blue, rich, money grabbing swagger about them they lose all of my respect for some reason. Perhaps it's because most of them are complete wankers? Who knows. All I hope for is 3 points and a 'fuck you' kick to Nasri's face and I'll be a happy man.
Did I mention nobody likes Jamie Redknapp? Not even Harry.