Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is unhappy at his side’s performance in yesterday’s Champions League defeat in Italy against Napoli, despite the Gunners already achieving qualification to the knock out stage.
After Arsenal’s defeat in Naples the Gunners finished second in the group table, after Borussia Dortmund beat Marseille to claim top spot in the group.
Wenger admitted in the post match interview that he regretted last night at Arsenal’s failure to win Group F and admitted that he was now left hoping for some luck when the draw for the knockout phase, when the draw is made on Monday.
Arsenal’s luck may have run out, as they may face one of Europe’s top sides, and may face Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG and Real Madrid amongst others, as Wenger’s men have faced Bayern Munich, Barcelona and AC Milan in the last 16 during the past three years and will face a similarly difficult challenge this season. Had they avoided defeat against Napoli, or if Borussia Dortmund had not scored their 87th-minute winning goal in Marseille, Arsenal would have finished top of the group and faced Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Schalke, Zenit St Petersburg or AC Milan.
Yes of course. That is the frustration because you feel it was open to do better. But it could have been worse as well. Of course to finish second makes the potential draw more difficult.
“In the last four or five years we have always had a difficult draw. Maybe this year we will be a bit luckier. We qualified for the 14th consecutive year for the last 16. Maybe number 14 will give us a bit of luck. A lot can change for us and the team we face.”
Per Mertesacker felt that the Arsenal players has taken “a little break” and felt they were not 100 per cent concentrated last night. “We were always on the back foot, we took a little break I think but we will be back on Saturday,” he said. “It’s always the same, you give 10 per cent less mentally because we knew we were through.”
Arsenal were beaten 2-0 in Naples, as Gonzalo Higiuain and Callejon’s superb chip won the game for Rafael Benitez’s side had to settle for a place in the Europa League.
If Arsenal had have conceded a third, they would have been knocked out of the tournement all together, as Wenger sets his sights on Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday lunch time.
Wenger was also frustrated at Mikel Arteta’s sending off, stating…
When we were down to 10 men and at 1-0 down doubt crept in a little bit – it was a difficult moment,” he said. “He is absolutely convinced he didn’t make a foul and that it was very harsh.”
Napoli boss Benitez believes Arsenal have a real chance of winning it, he added…
“They have a group with quality, the right mentality,” he said. “I think Arsenal are one of the candidates to be there at the end.”
By Ben Reardon