Arsenal 2 (Wilshere 1, 65) – 0 Marseille
Man of the Match – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Arsenal reached the brink of qualification from the group stages to the knockout round of the Champions League, with a comprehensive 2-0 home win over Marseille.
Kieran Gibbs was a late pullout, to be replaced by Nacho Monreal. Santi Cazorla was given a breather, and was named on the bench alongside a fit again Theo Walcott.
Arsenal got the best of starts, and in less than 30 seconds of the start of the match, the Gunners were leading 1-0. A long pass on the right flank from Bacary Sagna released Jack Wilshere, who was completely unmarked. He ran unchallenged, before cutting in under pressure from a defender, and finishing, a la Bergkamp, leaving Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda with no chance.
Arsenal could have been 2-0 up, when Wilshere was released again on the right, by Olivier Giroud, and he set up Aaron Ramsey, who could only find the keeper. Arsenal were toying with a honestly average Marseille side. Aaron Ramsey put Mesut Ozil through with a beautifully chipped pass, but the German’s control let him down on this occasion.
On 35 minutes, Aaron Ramsey was challenged right on the edge of the penalty box, after a splendid flick, earning Arsenal a penalty. On second look, it was probably harsh on the French side. Nonetheless, Mesut Ozil’s tame penalty was easily saved by Mandanda, who on second look, was standing off the line, something the referees again failed to notice.
Aaron Ramsey seemed to be in fine touch, and another lobbed ball, this time for Olivier Giroud, was unfortunately called back for offside. However, the Gunners did not have to wait long to get that decisive second goal.
Simple yet very effective positioning from Ozil played in Wilshere, who tapped home his and Arsenal’s second of the night. Arsenal were then happy to cling on to the ball, with Marseille looking done and dusted. They did have their attempts on goal, the first coming at 71 minutes, when Florian Thauvin was completely umnarked, but an unlikely save from Szczesny and a goal line clearance from Monreal averted the danger.
Thauvin then made another attempt on goal, as his left footed strike saw Szczesny saving at his left post. Santi Cazorla was presented with a chance on the platter, but his shot was woefully above the post. Theo Walcott had the final chance of the game, when put clean through, but his sharpness was clearly missing, as he shot tamely wide.
It was a great result on the night, with Arsenal on 12 points after 5 games in the group, and Napoli and Dortmund fighting it out with 9 points each. Permutations and combinations suggest Arsenal should avoid defeat by 3 or more goals to progress, which shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Time to concentrate on the Premier League, with an away trip to Cardiff and a home clash with Hull lined up!
Jai Arsenal 🙂