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UEFA Youth League : Marseille 1 – 4 Arsenal

By Walter Broeckx

Last year we had the Nextgen series and Arsenal got to the semi finals to lose against Chelsea with 4-3 in extra time. That was rather an interesting match to see. We then also lost the last game so Arsenal finished in 4th place.

But as Nextgen was not organized by Uefa but by a kind of separate company Uefa has taken over this year and started the Uefa Youth League. This league is played with the teams who qualified for the Champions League and the groups are played in the same way as the proper CL games.

So for this game the Arsenal youth setup travelled to Marseille together with the first team. In the youth team we had Bellerin as one to watch for (well I do rate him highly), Ollson, Jebb and the one that maybe is closest to the first team: Gnabry. One that I wouldn’t mind seeing more in the first team. But then again let us not clip his wings before he really can fly.

I decided to follow the game on the Uefa website where you only get text updates and when Arsenal took the lead after only 7 minutes thanks to a goal from Iwobi I used the tweet function to inform the rest of the twitter world that we had taken the lead. And promptly got a reply from someone pointing me in the direction of the Marseille website where they were showing the game live.

Of course I followed the game because it was Arsenal.  But another reason why I had an interest was the fact that I knew the ref. I have trained with him a hundred times in the last 8 or 9 years and he has always been the one who tells us what to do.  When he says run, you run.  You don’t argue with a Fifa ref (at least, not if you are a ref yourself).

 So knowing the ref, Arsenal playing (I do like to see the youth games also when possible – including the Ladies) and a live stream, it was great entertainment for me.

What I saw was Marseille making lots of efforts but with no end product at all. Apart from a long distance shot that bounced of the foot of the post they were aiming at everything but not at the goal.  Now I must say that the pitch looked terrible. The ball bouncing from left to right, jumping up and down …. It was difficult for both teams to produce real quality football. (The rules are, you have to play in a stadium, but the quality of the pitch is not regulated).

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But the ref did a fine job and Arsenal was very much in control and looked stronger technically and physically the long the game went on.  Oh and before you might think that I influenced the ref: I know him very well, but didn’t know he was doing this game till this morning when he was already in France.  And more importantly I know he supports a team from London. But it sure isn’t Arsenal that he supports.  So I was expecting no favours at all from him.

When we have met over the last years he sometimes had the better of me in terms of the teams we follow and has pointed at the league table half way the season. I always told said him to wait till the end of the season.  And I always seem to have the last laugh then.

But back to the game. In the second half it was Arsenal in total control. They played the ball from feet to feet on the difficult pitch and got a lot of chances. Gnabry scored two goals in quick succession. Twice from an assist from Ollson (I think) and two nice finishes.

With a 0-3 score you could feel some sympathy creeping in with the Arsenal lads. Marseille was on their knees and had nothing to cheer about. Let’s give them a goal must have been the word. And so they did. I must say that I think that Illiev will not sleep well at all when he remembers this night. A simple back pass after a throw in was aimed at him and he wanted to kick the ball with his left foot towards the other side of the field but completely missed it and the ball hobbled in to the empty net.  Now you can be nice to the home team and feel some sympathy but this was a bit over the top.  Would Marseille start a fight back?

Hell no, a Marseille player fouled Lipman and got the yellow card he deserved. Good work Wim.  And when the keeper couldn’t hold on to the free kick from Olsson again (I think)  it was Jebb who turned the ball in to the net. The Marseille keeper didn’t look good with that goal either.

Arsenal had still a few chances to get an even bigger win but the bad pitch prevented another goal when Maitland-Niles was on his own to goal but the ball jumped up at the wrong moment and the keeper could save.

A nice win, a good ref (maybe I am biased on this occasion), Gnabry being the man of the match with his goals and assists. The only bad thing was the pitch. Not worthy to have the best youngster from Europe playing on such a bad surface.

So two teams in Marseille, and two fine wins.  Not bad.

18 September 2013: Arsenal beat Marseille 2-1 to make it 10 away wins in a row – a club record – and hides another interesting stat.

The books…


14 comments to UEFA Youth League : Marseille 1 – 4 Arsenal

  • good job guy,s. more additions in jan

  • nicky

    Wife, daughter and son-in-law just back from mini tour of northwest Europe. Got as far as Ghent but withdrew into France due to heavy Belgian rain. Party still raving over the quality of chips, beer ad chocolates.
    Sorry for being off-topic.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice report Walter. It will be interesting to see how these young players develop & which ones get a run out in the cups this season.

  • WalterBroeckx


    As I don’t drink beer at all I don’t know anything about the quality of beer. I know how can you not like beer when you are from Belgium….but that is just me. But I have heard from people who know a bit about the subject that our beers are amongst the best.

    And chocolates…oh no, now I will have to eat some today. Just the thought of it….

    Somehow we seem to be great in all that is bad for the health…. 🙂 Maybe because we think: live is short, so better enjoy it while it lasts…

  • WalterBroeckx


    I just found out that we had a 15 year old coming on Kayle Hinds I think. Seems to be another big talent.

  • menace

    Walter – the chips with mayo and pilipili are just fantastic. And, who could not fall for a beer called Stella?

  • LRV

    A very well done to our youngsters! Both win was most enjoyable (youngsters and the seniors).

  • FinnGooner

    Great article once again Walter. Our youngsters looks pretty good. Apart players you named I also kept eye on one player in our midfield, a 17 year old FInn (he will turn 18 on October). There was interview of Glen Kamara in Finnish magazine couple of weeks ago (telling about Wenger being there when he signed contract and having chat about what he is good in and what needs to be improved).
    That own goal was stupid thing, maybe (as he felt sorry for home team) remembered how our old traitor captain once helped other team to score, and helped them…. Luckily this time we won the game instead of losing it

  • WalterBroeckx

    Didn’t know Kamara was Finnish?

  • Gf60

    Walter…were they playing at the main stadium? That pitch looked reasonable.

  • colario

    Talksprot’s ‘Arsenal pitch’ had a go at this match around 6.45pm. He did say ‘well done’ but whinged that the team failed the ‘Greg Dyke test’ that the players were not all English. Half were foreign and only 6 were English!

    In case you are wondering why I listen to that station, I don’t. If I have time and I think of it I tune i\nt just for that spot then return to sanity.

  • FinnGooner

    Walter I can understand that. He was born in Finland but moved to England when he was 12, but he has only Finnish passport (which means he hopefully will be in our senior national team in few year).

    Gf60 No they were playing at Stade Marcel Cerdan, Carnoux en Provence. (according Uefa site)

    As I checked the stadium I also noticed that there where 2 teams (Chelsea and Plzen) that had match played in their training ground instead of a stadium. Arsenal will play their home matches in Borehamwood (where also Arsenal Ladies play).

  • Gf60

    Thanks FinnGooner.