Arsenal play hosts to French side Olympique de Marseille in the fourth round of the group stages in the Champions League. A victory at the Emirates should guarantee passage to the knock-out phase of the competition, but this is easier said then done. There is no doubt the Marseille will come to the Emirates looking for revenge after a very late winner by Ramsey stole all three points when the two teams met a couple of weeks ago.
Arsenal’s current run of form has been indicative of a resurgence where the gunners have now won eight in their previous nine matches in all competitions. After their torrid start to the season, it seems the club has finally turned the corner with the likes of Robin van Persie in freakish form and the rest of the team, old and new, finally starting to gel together. The recent mauling at Stamford Bridge should provide plenty of confidence going into this tie where Van Persie scored a hat-trick, Gervinho always looked dangerous and both Ramsey and Arteta look to be improving with the final ball.
Looking at Marseille, it is an eerily similar story. After a poor run in Ligue 1 at the start of the season, the club is now also bouncing back strongly where they are now undefeated in six matches pushing them up to mid-table in their domestic league. Although with travelling clubs only securing one win in ten matches against Premier League opposition in the European competition, it will be a tough ask for the French team.
The last time these two sides met a couple of weeks ago, the match was certainly not the best in terms of quality. Both teams seemed to be playing for the draw, but this time I have the feeling that the tie will be a much more open and free-flowing game. No doubt Marseille will try and exploit the glaring weakness at right-back with the absence of Bacary Sagna and hopefully Arsenal will bring their brand of attacking football that saw them net five against a strong Chelsea team at the weekend.
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Olympique de Marseille: WWWLD
(Champions League in red)
on preparation for the match against Marseille…
Marseille always make life difficult for teams in England, so let’s be cautious, prepare well and be completely focused tomorrow night.
It will be a very difficult game so that is the best way to deal with Marseille’s performance.
Ten points would guarantee qualification but it would not guarantee first place. You want to finish as high as possible but the first step is to qualify.
whether Marseille will be the same team as a fortnight ago…
I believe they have the team which certainly is more at ease away from home.
They are a side who can defend well with very physical and quick players on the break, so I believe that the counter attack suits them more than dominating the game.
They have gained in confidence in between the two games like we have so it should be an interesting tie. But for us it’s an opportunity to qualify and of course we want to take this chance.
on whether or not he will rotate his side…
I have not decided yet, I have not picked the team.
on Jenkinson and Vermaelen…
They will both be available and in the squad tomorrow. I haven’t picked the team yet so I don’t know [if they are fit enough to start]. Are they fit enough to play? Yes, of course.
on Marouane Chamakh…
He is injured. He has a knee problem. A slight effusion in the knee and therefore he is not even involved tomorrow.
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie – The flying Dutchman has been in outstanding form this season and his form can not be argued with. Scoring an impressive hat-trick against Chelsea at the weekend, his confidence going into this match will be sky-high with the Dutchman himself saying he expects to score in every game.
Marseille – Loic Remy – The Marseille striker will be looking to get his club’s Champions League campaign back on track after their recent loss to the gunners. With 9 goals in 17 appearances Marseille will be looking to the Frecnhman to be the source of goals.
Djourou Koscielny Mertesacker Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
With Vermaelen returning to full first team training and playing 84 minutes of the Carling Cup as well as a small cameo of 6 minutes against Chelsea, there is a chance that the no-nonsense Belgian could make an appearance at centre-back. In saying this though in recent weeks the backline suddenly looks be a solid unit with Koscielny having an impressive run of performances and Mertesacker to looking in good form. If the Verminator is to return, expect to see Koscielny out at right-back in the place of the, at times, woeful Djourou and Vermaelen to partner Mertesacker in the centre of defence.
The midfield will be the usual three, and upfront and wide it should be the same after Gervinho and Walcott put in excellent performances at Stamford Bridge. Although in saying this there is opportunity to rest players with Rosicky and Arshavin ample replacements.