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Napoli 2-0 Arsenal: 4 Stats & Facts From Arsenal Disappointing Defeat

Arsenal edged into the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night despite a 2-0 loss to Napoli. Here, Gunner333 gives us his thoughts on the game. 

per mertesacker

After the Gunners racked up an important 3 points in their penultimate group fixture against Marseille, they were arrived in Italy looking to secure qualification to the knockout stages. In their way stood a reluctant Napoli side, who could qualify ahead of the North London side with a victory of three or more goals.

The game was set up in a rather brooding atmosphere, which was not surprising given the pivotal nature of the game. Early challenges were fired in recklessly and neither side looked comfortable in possession.

An early chance may have arisen but a disappointing cross from Armero was comfortable work for Wojciech Szczesny. The game spiced up when news filtered through that Robert Lewandowski had put Borussia Dortmund ahead in the other group fixture.

Arsenal created their best opportunity of the half when Olivier Giroud fired a powerful effort straight at Cabral. Perhaps the Frenchman could have done better.

Aside from a Szczesny error nearly gifting Higuain a chance, very few further opportunities came and the score was stalemate at the break. Thanks to a goal from Marseille’s Diawara, the score was also level in Southern France, piling some pressure back on last season’s finalists Dortmund.

Napoli upped the tempo in the second half as they searched a goal that would put them through as things stood, with the introduction of Lorenzo Insigne’s lifting the home side.

With 73 minutes gone a moment of magic caused an uproar at the San Paolo. Link up play from Callejon and Higuain resulted in the Argentine turning and burying a sublime low effort into the bottom corner of the net.

Very little action came in Southern Italy as both teams were going through if the scores stayed the same, but in France it was a different story. Dortmund piled on the pressure and a winner eventually came in the 89th minute through Kevin Großkreutz. Napoli were now heading out unless they could score two in the dying minutes.

The Gunners were then dealt a double blow as Arteta left the field after receiving a second yellow and Lorenzo Insigne’s divine ball over allowed Callejon to make it 2-0. Thankfully the referee blew the final whistle from the re-start and Arsenal were through, just.

The Gunners will now have to face a tough game against a group winner in the last 16, while the Italian’s can feel unlucky to be missing out altogether despite finishing on 12 points.

Here I analyse four stats and what they mean;

1) Last Ditch Delight: 28 Clearances in Italy

All night long Napoli were pouring men forward in search of goals and we did our best to cope with it. Both Mertesacker and Koscielny put in great shifts and cleared their lines consistently. We made an incredible 20 clearances more than our opponents; making 28 in total. Similar to the Everton game, we were pegged back further than usual and were unable to play our way out from the back, leading to more rushed clearances.

2) Arteta Dismissed!

The loss of our Spanish magician really did rub salt into the wounds. Already one down, Arteta walked from the field after a rash challenge on Callejon gave the ref a decision to make. With the home crowd on his back, he opted to send the midfielder packing. Obviously his dismissal made our job all that harder for the final few minutes but thankfully we saw the game out, just.

3) Just 1 on target, really??

Very rarely this campaign have we struggled to create chances but last night was certainly one of those seldom seen occasions. Our midfielders were unable to get going and Napoli played at very high pressure to regain possession quickly. Giroud looked isolated up front and received little service. Ahead of the big game with City on Saturday, we must rediscover our rhythm quickly.

4) Tough Draw

We could face any of; Atletico Madrid, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or FC Barcelona. This is going to be an extremely tough ask and we may face yet another departure from Europe’s elite competition at this stage. My preferred opponent would be PSG but only due to the league they’re competing in each week, but overall any will be tough. On the plus side, if we do crash out we’ll be able to focus purely on the league.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.

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