Does second place matter or should Arsenal focus be on Premier League?

By Avenell Dave

Texting friends and keeping half an eye on Twitter, I was amazed last night how much angst there was about our game against Napoli.

We were in total control of the game for 70-odd minutes and despite a couple of crazy moments from Szczesny, we had nothing to fear.

Of course, Higuain's turn and shot, drilled with the speed and ferocity that again gave our young goalkeeper little chance of reacting, just as with Everton's goal on Sunday, upped the ante somewhat but I still felt we were comfortable.

The fact that Napoli then started playing the ball around along the back line, aware that a draw was enough until Dortmund's late strike, underlined the curious nature of the game.

The second Napoli goal came too late to cause any real worry and it would be nice if we could close games out a bit more but as I said, it was a strange old night in many respects.

I did wonder why Theo Walcott wasn't brought on. I can see why Giroud was retained because of his hold-up play but he is exhausted and as Napoli pushed forward, having a pacey outlet to get on the end of clearances may have affected the game.

We do lack pace, as Giroud showed when he had the chance to break and reminded me of Paul Davis, who also looked as if an elastic band was pulling him pack when he tried to run at speed.

Certainly Arsenal seemed uncertain whether to stick or twist and in the end, second place is far from ideal.

But let's not forget that with City coming up on Saturday lunchtime, I suspect some of the team were playing within themselves with one eye on that key clash.

I asked yesterday whether we should consider ourselves realistic contenders for the Champions League and certainly finishing second makes a tough task even more daunting, but who can't be excited about facing one of the teams we are now likely to face?

The concern for me is that the fluidity seems to have gone from our game.

Regardless of his red card, which was harsh, Mikel Arteta looks off the pace as does Cazorla and Giroud, for all his effort, is going through a dip in form as well.

The fact that City could rest Aguero on Tuesday underlines their strength in depth and I think we would all take a draw now if it was offered to us.

If I was Arsene Wenger, I would have taken the squad straight to Manchester to minimise the travelling before City's clash which is clearly key given our position in the league.

We need some inspiration, some magic and dogged determination on Saturday.

The Premier League is certainly Arsenal's best chance of silverware - certainly more positive than the Champions League.


We can do nothing about the crazy television schedule.

Let us hope this recent dip is nothing permanent.