GROUP F – Wednesday 18th September 2013
MARSEILLE 1-2 ARSENAL
A timid opening game in the group for both teams in the south of France, perhaps with the sides knowing that tougher tests are to come in the upcoming fixtures. Arsenal’s resilience was too much for Marseille, and in truth the home side never looked like getting much from this game.
Elie Baup’s men could lay claim to the best of the first half, showing much energy and will to get at the English side, while Arsenal seemed unable to get a grip in the game. OM’s midfield and attacking talents were on show, threatening with various attacks out wide and through the middle, however they lacked a cutting edge.
André-Pierre Gignac has been in good form this season in Ligue 1, however there are still questions about his abilities at this level. Other than a glancing header, flashed over the bar, he was not presented with a clear cut chance in the first period, and failed to make much of an impression and the Arsenal backline.
It wasn’t until the 2nd half when Arsenal began to come out of their shell – Ramsey and Wilshere finding their feet in the middle, and taking control of possession. Their use of the ball came to the fore and in the 65th minute Kieran Gibbs was released down the left where he could unleash a dangerous cross across the face of goal.
The ball bounced awkwardly for the much-criticized Jérémy Model (who had played a fine game in truth), and his error in stopping to head, rather than volley clear, allowed the ball to break behind him to the waiting Theo Walcott. The striker, often wasteful in such positions, made no mistake, firing a volley back into the right hand side of the goal, giving Steve Mandanda no chance.
Marseille failed to react in truth, and never really threatened the Arsenal goal. Six minutes from time, with OM’s midfield looking ragged and tired after their early efforts, Ramsey picked up the ball some 25 yards from goal and made space for himself before firing from the edge of the area. The replays show a reflection took it away from Mandanda, but the result is the same. Ramsey notched his 6th in 7 games for the Gunners this season, while Marseille heads visibly dropped.
It wasn’t all good news for the Welshman – deep into injury time he challenged Andre Ayew for the ball just inside his own 18 yard area, and was perhaps harshly penalized. Ramsey appeared to get a touch on the ball first, however the referee gave the spot kick.
Jordan Ayew stepped up and duly slammed the penalty home, however despite the Velodrome’s hopeful roar, it was practically the last kick of the game, and Arsene Wengers men sealed their 10th in successive away win.
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