Just a quick one from me tonight.
Tonight was a mixed night for most Arsenal fans. We lost 2-0 to Napoli, but managed to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League. However, looking at some of the mewling and moaning going on among Arsenal fans, you’d think we’d been doomed to imprisonment in the EUROPA League. I’m shocked to see so many fans treating this evening’s result as a disaster.
Perhaps it’s just a vocal minority. But it does perturb me.
In my eyes, qualification from such a treacherous group is a pretty significant achievement. Four wins from six games against teams of this quality is not a record to be sniffed at.
I think most sane Arsenal fans appreciate that. I hope so. Getting out of the group was the priority, and winning it merely a bonus. The most important thing is that we have evaded a draining and depressing assault on that Thursday night monstrosity. Instead, Rafael Benitez has been left to continue his bizarre love affair with that particular competition.
The performance wasn’t great, but Arsenal entered the game in something of an awkward position. We knew a draw would be enough to see us through. That’s never particularly conducive to a stirring showing — witness Bayern Munich’s listless display against us back in March.
It’s a blow to miss out on top spot, but it’s not the end of the world. Surely one of the very reasons we bother to qualify for the Champions League is to enjoy hosting the continent’s finest? I can’t wait to welcome one of Barca, Real, Atletico, Bayern or PSG to the Emirates. If you want to watch Maribor, turn on Channel 5ive.
If you want to win the trophy, you have to beat the top teams somewhere along the line. Better to face up to it early. If we go through, fantastic. If we go out, we have all the more time to focus on our domestic affairs.
Speaking of which, there’s a very big game with Manchester City coming up on Saturday. Should we lose that, it looks as if some people will go in to some kind of meltdown.
That’d be unwise too. There’s a long, long way to go in the title-race. Saturday will be an indicator, but not a decider.
And you know what? I’m looking forward to it.
If you want more, I’ve written a more conventional match report for ESPN.