Napoli 2 Arsenal 0: Wenger was right to bench Ramsey
The Gunners knew that they only needed to avoid losing by three goals, and Arsene Wenger set his team up with damage limitation in mind.
Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were on the bench, with Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta starting the game in the centre of the park.
Although the Spaniard ended up getting sent off for a questionable second yellow card and the scoreline was within one goal of seeing Arsenal eliminated, the French coach’s tactics were spot on.
Ramsey’s exclusion will have raised a few eyebrows, but in the end Wenger was right to start the in-form Welshman from the bench.
Arteta’s positional sense and Flamini’s doggedness and organsiation of the rest of the team were key attributes in the north London side’s victory.
Apart from the two goals, one of which came in the final seconds, Napoli struggled to break their opponents down – especially centrally, due to the presence of two holding midfielders.
While Arsenal did not offer as much attacking threat without Ramsey in the team, they were collectively stronger as a defensive unit – which is all that mattered in this situation.
With Manchester City to play on Saturday, resting Ramsey here could well be a masterstroke, as the box-to-box midfielder will more than likely come back into the side full of vigour and with a point to prove.