Amidst all the fuss being created over Arsenal’s failure to hang on to the top spot in Group F of the Champions League, Gunners midfielder Mathieu Flamini has claimed that the fact that the North London side made it to the last 16 of Europe’s premier competition is an achievement in itself and believes that the team is due a lot more credit.
Heading into the game at the Stadio San Paolo, Arsene Wenger’s side needed only a point to secure top spot in the group rightfully named as the ‘Group of Death’ but were unable to do so against a very game Napoli side. The result drew a fair bit of criticism towards the Gunners but Flamini was quick to point out that the team deserved credit for progressing through what was undoubtedly the toughest group in the competition.
The combative midfielder was quoted by Sky Sports as saying: “It was one of the hardest groups because you have a team like Napoli who have not qualified and we have finished second, level with them on 12 points. We will play a big team now but we knew that anyway. If you want to go to the final and try to win something, you have to play all the big teams. I do not really have a preference, so we will see what happens with the draw.”
It is certainly worth noting that Arsenal were written off by most once the draw for the Group Stages was announced. Considering the quality of the other teams in the group, you would have to say that Frenchman is spot on. While it may be a tad disappointing to have surrendered pole position in the group to Dortmund, the team can take plenty of encouragement from the famous win against the German side at the Wstfalenstadion and the performance against Napoli at the Emirates.
In all honesty, I think we deserved to top the group for all our efforts but ultimately we paid the price for a very defensive approach to the game against Napoli, but it was an awkward situation. Nevertheless, I believe we are capable of beating anyone we are drawn against in the first knockout round and advance in the competition. As of now, we should really be rejoicing in the fact that we survived the group which surely turned out to be this year’s ‘Group of Death’ in the Champions League.