Arsenal’s match against Napoli really was a game of two halves. This was Arsenal all over. We went 2 – 0 down without Napoli even getting into second gear before we somehow made our inevitable comeback in the dying minutes of the game to earn us a very entertaining draw.
We started the game well with some very tidy passing in Napoli’s half but weren’t really carving out any real chances. Eventually, Napoli on their first real attack managed to capitalise on some poor defending by Jenkinson who cleared the ball with his head right into the path of Insigne who coolly side footed it past Fabianski. 0 – 1.
We tried our best to respond after going a goal down but Napoli defended resolutely and it was very difficult to exploit any space behind their defence. Reina had barely anything to do until we won a penalty. The foul itself was non-existent and I still don’t understand what “foul” the ref saw. The Napoli players were understandably frustrated but seemed to take this pre-season friendly a tad too seriously. Anyway, Podolski took the penalty and we all thought “Ah nice, a German taking a penalty. That’s a certain goal”. Shame it was an appalling penalty that was easily saved by Reina and it was a massive opportunity missed to really assert ourselves onto Napoli.
Things went from bad to worse as we conceded yet another soft goal from what seemed Napoli’s second counter attack. Hamsik passed it to Pandev who easily rounded Fabianski (it was rather embarrassing goalkeeping by the Pole) and nicely finished the ball into the net with a couple of defenders on the line. 0 – 2.
It was a pretty poor half by the Gunners. The lack of defensive protection from the midfield was obvious from the start. Ramsey was acting as our defensive midfielder but positionally wasn’t up to par whilst Wilshere just didn’t have legs to keep up with the counter attacks Napoli posed. Rosicky was decent as was Koscielny in the first half.
The second half started and Arsenal were much sharper. The introduction of the likes of Chamberlain, Arteta and Walcott really changed the tide of this match. The added pace and defensively solidarity allowed Arsenal to dictate the game to Napoli.
These substitutions allowed us to take control of the game and from a corner, we managed to reduce the deficit after what seemed to be a brilliant scissor kick by Olivier Giroud. On further inspection, it took a heavy deflection off Sagna. 1 – 2.
With the momentum on our side, we weren’t done and within a matter of minutes, we scored again from another set piece. It was delivered in by Arteta and a Mertesacker header stung the fingers of Reina who palmed it back into a danger area. Koscielny raced into position and headed it in ahead of the Napoli defenders. It typified his performance against Napoli. Full of determination and passion. 2 – 2.
The game finished 2 – 2 and it was a very good comeback after what was a very lacklustre first half. It was also important to show the fans that our current squad isn’t that bad. I know we all want signings but it was important that our current players clawed it back against a Napoli team that has spent £70m+ and will challenge for Serie A this season.