Arsène Wenger admitted to "regret" and a moment of "doubt" after Arsenal's 2-0 Champions League defeat at Napoli, which has raised the prospect of a nightmarish tie in the last 16. Arsenal qualified only as Group F runners-up and they will now face either Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid or Paris St-Germain.
The manager, though, hopes fortune will finally smile on his club when Europe's best teams go into the draw in Switzerland on Monday. Arsenal have drawn Bayern, Milan and Barcelona at the first knockout stage in the past three seasons and lost each time.
"Of course, to finish second makes the potential draw more difficult," Wenger said. "Maybe this year we will be a bit luckier [although] if you look at the teams, you know we will have a difficult draw.
"On the other hand, we have qualified for the 14th consecutive year for the last 16. Maybe number 14 will give us a bit of luck. There is regret. That is the frustration because you feel it was open for us to do better. But it could have been worse tonight as well."
When Mikel Arteta was sent off in the 77th minute, shortly after Gonzalo Higuaín had put Napoli 1-0 up, that worst-case scenario came into view, as a three-goal defeat would have put Arsenal out of the competition.
"When we were down to ten men and 1-0 down, then doubt crept in a little bit," said Wenger. "It was a difficult moment. "We concentrated, but we were a bit in between – 'Do we attack or do we defend?' It is always difficult to cope with that problem. In the second-half, our legs went a bit and Napoli were sharper."