While defender Per Mertesacker claimed that the players were perhaps guilty of becoming complacent due to the fact they believed they were already through to the knockout stages of the Champions League prior to the Napoli encounter on December 11, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has countered by stating he had his side 'well-focused'.
Napoli beat the Gunners 2-0 in Italy but, despite the loss, Arsenal secured progression to the next stage. The North Londoners may also lose a bit of momentum heading into their crucial Premier League showdown with Manchester City on Saturday.
Wenger, though, insists the club are 'happy to be through'.
He continued, as reported by Sky Sports Two: 'We took the game seriously, were well focused but we dropped physically in the second half. Naples played very well tonight. It was difficult but we got through.'
Arsenal's night went from bad to worse when, 1-0 down, they lost midfielder Mikel Arteta to a second cautionary card but Wenger said that the Spaniard felt his early bath was 'harsh'.
Wenger continued: 'He is absolutely convinced that he didn’t make a foul – it is very harsh. But he already had the yellow card. I felt it was a harsh second yellow.
'It was difficult playing with the handbrake on. As long as we didn’t score, they had hope. When you win the group you feel you have done well, but to go through as second you think you have just done the job and you hope for a good draw.'
The chances of that draw being good are slim… as HITC note in this article, they could face five of the elite clubs in world football.
image: © Matt and Kim Rudge