Arsenal will be lamenting on golden chances that were not taken advantage of and the failed gamble of resting in-form striker Robin van Persie after being unable to break the stalemate with the solid defensive unit that is Olympique de Marseille. The draw leaves Arsenal top with eights points followed closely by Marseille on seven. No doubt the gunners will want to book their place in the knock-out phase with victory against Dortmund in three weeks time, who now lie third after victory against Olympiakos.
While the match ended in a repeat score of 0-0, the tie proved to a much more lively affair in comparison to when the two sides met a couple of weeks ago. Marseille came out of the blocks firing and both Ayew brothers could have had a goal apiece within the opening minutes. As the tie wore on though Arsenal began to assert their dominance on the match. While we had lengthy spells of possession though, besides three golden opportunities mentioned in the next paragraph, it was hard to penetrate the Marseille defence and carve out clean opportunities, particularly with Park Chu-Young looking well off the pace.
Ramsey in particular will be disappointed in himself after having two golden opportunities to put the gunners ahead. The first, where he found himself free at the back-post and was picked out by Santos, but could only manage to put the ball over the bar and the second where Gervinho attracted numerous defenders and slipped Ramsey the ball at the top of the 18-yard box only for the Welshman to dwell on the the ball for much too long and have his shot blocked. Arsenal talisman Robin van Persie will also be disappointed he didn’t find the back of the net when he came on for a half hour cameo. After a perfect through ball by Tomas Rosicky, the Dutchman found himself one-on-one with the keeper but failed to execute his chip which Mandanda claimed with ease.
In terms of defence, it was great to see no-nonsense defender Thomas Vermaelen back to his best after easily putting in the best individual performance at the back. The Belgian made a number of blocks, interceptions and tackles, with his outstanding one-on-one tackle with Remy the most significant of the bunch. Defence as a whole looked very solid today, particularly with Alex Song being very effective in breaking up the Marseille attack and covering for the full-backs when they were caught up the field, with Santos perhaps getting caught up-field far too often due to his attacking personality.
Overall Arsenal will be a little disappointed that they didn’t come away with three-points, but will be quietly pleased to get a rare clean-sheet and a point from the draw. We look on to the weekend now where the gunners play hosts to West Brom who lie 13th on the table. No doubt the gunners will want to continue their current home form and get closer to that all important top-four spot.
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on Robin van Persie…
He had a great chance when he came on, you know? He tried to chip the keeper but overall you cannot say that one player always has to make the difference.
on the 0-0 draw…
I felt it was a game where we were not physically at our sharpest. Marseille started stronger than us and after that we got back in the game. In the first half I feel we had opportunities to kill the game. After that we were disciplined, we were willing, but you have to give credit to Marseille – they defended very well. They stopped us from playing and we were not sharp enough to get them out of position. The positives are that we did not concede a goal, Marseille only had one shot on target and overall we know that in the final third we can do better.
on his back four…
I was happy with them. It’s not all perfect but we have rebuilt a back four. Overall Vermaelen had a good game, Mertesacker had a solid performance tonight, Santos as well. Jenkinson has just come back and he lacks experience in certain situations but overall he did well.
on Andre Santos’ attacking nature…
I am happy when he has the ball. I feel personally he is much better defensively than many people think. He is getting stronger in every game. He is a very intelligent boy who learns very quickly and obviously he has to adapt to the pace of the English game. That is not easy, to play game after game.
on what Saturday’s game took out of his team…
Emotionally more than physically maybe. It is difficult to be on a high three days later again but we still had opportunities, especially Ramsey in the first half, he had two great chances. Gervinho had a chance, and in a game like that you still expect to take one of these chances.
on Chu Young Park…
He did very well last week. Tonight you could see that he lacked the pace of the game a little bit because he has not played enough games.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Santos
Walcott Park Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.0: The Pole continues with his recent run of erratic behaviour. This time turning a player twice with a pass-back and also inexplicably running outside his box to header a ball away which Vermaelen could have easily dealt with. Other than this was pretty solid, but needs to address these issues after exhibiting them for four games in a row.
Carl Jenkinson | 5.5: I feel for Jenkinson who made a number of good runs but was failed to be picked out. His inexperience showed, particularly when Marseille used Ayew to great effect early on, but he improved as Arsenal began to assert their dominance on the match.
PerMertesacker | 6.0: Like Jenkinson, the big German was caught out at times early on when Marseille cam out of the blocks firing. But as the match wore on he improved making good interceptions and aerial clearances.
Thomas Vermaelen | 8.5: The sorely missed Belgian centre back was aggressive and sharp all match, easily notching up the best display from the defensive end of the park today. Looking forward to many more great performances from the Verminator!
Andre Santos | 6.0: As expected from the Brazilian was very enthusiastic about getting on attack, but often meant he needed extensive cover in defence.
Alex Song | 7.0: While he was caught out by Marseilles offensive start, the Cameroon midfielder grew into the match with his physical presence and broke-up the French sides attack on many occasions and neutralised threats when defenders were caught out of position.
Mikel Arteta | 6.0: The Spaniard was tidy without being overly threatening. As expected his distribution was accurate, but perhaps needs to add a incisive final ball that we know he is capable of.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: Will be disappointed with his two failed attempts at goal in dangerous situations. Other then this his distribution was very good, but faded in the second half and was rightly substituted for Tomas Rosicky in the 66th minute.
Theo Walcott | 6.5: A mixed bag from the Englishman, who often got into dangerous situations but spurned chances with inconsistencies with his final ball.
Gervinho | 7.0: Similar to Walcott in how he got into dangerous situations with his pace and trickery but was often wasteful with his final ball. Anonymous in the second half and was rightly substituted for Arshavin in the 77th minute.
Chu-Young Park | 4.5: Had a golden chance to prove his worth, but looked well off the pace and got very little of the ball. Although in saying this it is early days for the South Korean and hopefully with more match time he will improve.
- Notable Substitutions