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Arsenal versus Marseilles preview: Qualification beckons

Arsenal versus Marseilles has come around, and with it the opportunity to pretty much tie up our Champions League qualification with a victory. Coming top is key in order to increase the likelihood of an easier game in the next round, but many have suggested Wenger may rotate somewhat. The obvious candidate for a breather is the effervescent Robin Van Persie, and if the Dutchman is carrying any form of knock or injury I would leave him out or bench him, depending on the severity. However if leaving him out would simply be giving him a breather, I’d disagree with it: let’s tie the group up now, and rest players later in the campaign.

On the injury front, Diaby’s return has been delayed for three more weeks due to a muscular problem, but it’s not the worst time for it to happen with the international break looming. Chamakh is out along with Gibbs, and long term absentees Sagna and Wilshere are also on the treatment table. The Diaby injury is disappointing, as we’re short of numbers in the middle of the park. At present, compared to last season we are without Denilson, Fabregas, Wilshere and Diaby, with only a couple of additions to offset those losses. While Diaby is a player who divides opinion, his return would give us more options in the middle of the park.

Szcznesy

Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Santos

Song Arteta

Ramsey

Walcott Van Persie Gervinho

As you can see from the above, I’m pretty much going for the strongest available team here. There are rotation options available that wouldn’t cost us too much in terms of quality, with Vermaelen perhaps coming in at centreback or Rosicky in the middle. However given the level of recent performances, unless fatigue or injury suggests rotation may be wise in the long term, I’d stick with the same line up. Key players such as Van Persie can always start and be subbed off.

Chamakh’s absence suggests Park could well be introduced from the bench at some stage, which will be interesting. Wenger mentioned that Marseilles are a side that are better playing away than at home because of their counter attacking style, so we could well see goals in this game. Arsenal are not a side who are going to set up in order to win 1-0, so we’ll be relying on our superior possession game to secure the defence and the intelligence of our defenders to marshal the space left behind us

While qualification is pretty much in our grasp, top spot isn’t with only a point between us and Marseilles in second. That suggests to me that a win will be required for us to feel comfortable enough to really rest the first eleven in the final two group games, though a draw would make top spot a step closer too. I’m expecting a close game, with plenty of chances but Arsenal to win it 3-1.

26 comments to Arsenal versus Marseilles preview: Qualification beckons

  • Sammy The Snake

    Read somewhere that TV5 will be starting!

  • T2T

    I go about this differently. I’d keep the back except for replacing Mertesacker with Vermaelen (if fully fit). Song is also important defensively and while I like Frimpong, I believe he sometimes are too rash and could pick up an unnecessary red card.
    Szcznesy
    Jenkinson Vermaelen Koscielny Santos
    Song Rosicky
    Arshavin
    Oxlade-Chamberlain Park Miyaichi
    With a bench consisting of Mertesacker, Djourou, Frimpong, Arteta, van Persie, Gervinho, Walcott – there should be enough quality to throw on if we’re struggling. The alternative is to start with the strongest team and if everything goes to plan, sub RvP, Gervinho, Walcott. However, I liked Arshavin in the playmaker role against Bolton. Getting him and Park to gel would benefit the team through the rest of this season. Losing 3 points in CL is less worrying than losing 3 points in EPL. Of course, after the WBA game – Arsenal have a 2 week break BUT most of our players will have to play a couple of games for their national sides.
    I am looking forward to the game but will likely lose another couple of years of my life if we don’t get a comfortable lead early on…

  • dy

    go with a strong line-up and win this one and then rest those who’re tired for the weekend game. A win tonight will almost guarantee our place at the next phase (unless another meltdown occurred.) This game is too important to slip up and the positive momentum is far more important now than ever.

  • critic

    Is arsenal better than newcastle and tottenham???

  • goonergerry

    Critic
    Why do you ask such a question? Arsenal are playing Marseille not Spurs or Newcastle. Marseille are a good side-who are strong defensively with strong breaking forwards. Beating them is far from being a foregone conclusion.
    Spurs have always talked a good game-but it has rarely materialised-it is like a long running novel. Lots of talk about them having a stronger squad. When we have played them recently we have been severely weakened by injury-and authors of our own downfall-oh and they have had more than a little piece of luck. I don’t rate their defence.Newcastle look more interesting of late-but not better than us.

  • Anne

    @critic:

    Is Arsenal better than Newcastle? Is that a joke? 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    @critic

    Have you been listening to Van der Vaart (Hand of Spurs)?

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    Hand der Vaart? 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    @Anne

    Very good!!

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    Can’t claim credit for that myself… I think I got it from A Cultured Left Foot 🙂

  • Gord

    Disappointing not to get more out of that game. However, for anyone who was watching the game, could you comment on how Vermaelen and Mertesacker worked together?

  • Mahdain

    goodness me the pundits on sky really showing their anti arsenal agenda..its like we have lost..shut it souness and gullit..dooh they parked the bus

  • Mahdain

    and they say we are delusional? really? when they show it so openly?

  • bjtgooner

    Although we did not win I liked the effort we put in and they way the team all worked for each other.

  • Anne

    It could have been a much better result, so I’m a little disappointed. But it also could have been a much worse result. It’s good that we kept another clean sheet.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The reporter in my country said that Marseille is a very annoying team to play against and in the two games it showed. We kept two clean sheets so that is a positive point.
    A bit disappointing we couldn’t score but I thought it was visible that we tried not to let them have a counter on us.
    One win in our next two games and we are qualified so we have it in our own hands.

  • Mandy dodd

    We will qualify but please in a position to avoid barca, again……….

  • Anne

    @Mandy dodd:

    I think that Barca will be wanting to avoid Arsenal as well.

  • Mandy dodd

    Hope so Anne! But surely not three years running assuming we qualify! Mind you would not like to draw real or bayern especially either at the moment

  • Gooner Gal

    We went into these two games looking for a minimum of 4 points, which we got. We also kept a clean sheet, which is another positive, but I have to say I was quite disappointed with the game in the end as we were wasteful in attack and the midfield had too many gaps which gave them room to play.
    .
    Park’s performance wasn’t good enough, as there was not enough off the ball movement to keep the defenders occupied and I think he should of shot more instead of passing. Arteta looked like his legs has gone after about 10 mins and Szczeny provided another heart stopping moment of craziness, putting the defence under unnecessary pressure. Like I said, although it is a useful point gained, I feel like we lost two right now.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Agree a bit Gooner Gal.
    Some positives like the combination Per-TV which seemed to work rather well after the first 5-10 minutes. So that is a big positive for me. We know Kos-TV can work, Per-Kos can work and now this other combination looked also very solid.

    The only negative is that we didn’t take the chances. Ramsey twice should have scored and Van Persie also could have done a bit better. But this is football and those things happen. It can’t be carnival each day we play.

    in fact this can only spur the team on to do better. Agree about Arteta also. Maybe he is in need for a rest? If only Diaby would have been available now so Arteta could get some rest.By the way I think he has been brilliant working hard in the shadow in the last couple of weeks.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Walter, I must be the only one not that anxious about Diaby. We missed Wilshire a great deal more in a game like this and I could see him making the difference in midfield along side Ramsey and Song or Rosicky even, who in my opinion should of started if he was fully fit and still not carrying a minor injury. In terms of other injured players, Chamakh would of been good to have in a game like today to take some of the pressure off the midfield too, as he is great at holding up the ball for the lay off to Gervinho or Theo.
    .
    I actually went for Per as my MoTM today because he read the game well, was calm under pressure and did enough throughout the game to deter their forwards from taking direct shots. Their hesitance was all he needed to stick a foot out and/or throw them off their shots. He positioned himself well and deterred Marseille from simply running at the goal or launching a rocket, which I feared would probably of gone in as I was not sure what was going through our keepers head today.
    .
    All of the defence was good today in truth, but this particular combination need to have a chat about a few things, Verm had a good game, but I didn’t like to see him and Santos bombing forward to much together, one should of stayed back and their fowards Ayew & Remy were very fast on the spin. I saw and understood what Arsene warned about regarding their good counter attack.
    .
    I don’t expect a carnival every week, but I do expect Arsenal to of been better today, as we made Marseille look better than they actually were. I look forward would like to see a lot of changes for the W/E game. Hopefully Fabinaski in goal, Frimpong Benni and Rosicky in midfield. Park needs to play on Saturday as it’s the only way he will learn and adapt.

  • Rich_Fryer

    I think it is undoubted that there was a hangover after the effort, both mental and physical, put into the Chelski game. However, I’m also wondering whether there is just a clash of styles with Marseille – neither game was very good and perhaps we just cancel each other out.

  • walter

    Oh my God how could I forget Jack…. (embarrassing look on my red face….) But I thought about Diaby because he should have been back by now.

  • Look I have to say this as nobody else has BUT tournament football is a tactical beast and… well – did nobody get the feeling that both teams went out with absolutely no intention of scoring and get a point each?
    Nobody else think that?
    Just me then?

    Bear this possibility in mind and rewatch the match…

  • Anne

    @DogFace:

    I also was under the impression that both teams were reasonably happy to take a draw.