Monday, November 7, 2011

Group Stage Stalemate, Arsenal 0-0 Marseille

Realizing this post comes a good week late, I still wanted to cover this Champions League draw.  A point a piece for Arsenal and Marseille with Dortmund's win over Olympiacos means its still an open field in Group F with Arsenal sitting on top by a point.  In their next Champs fixture, the Gunners host Dortmund and a win there would guarantee they progress to the knockout stage for 12 consecutive years.

In the weeks since their last matchup, Marseille had come into good form and were looking to take their chances at the Emirates.  The Ligue 1 side bossed the show in the opening minutes, and it was soon obvious the Gunner's line-up was less than the side that walloped Chelsea.  The visitors showed pluck and made several chances but the combination of Mertesacker and Vermalen at center back left Marseille with a  rather imposing challenge.  Arsenal had wrestled back control of the match by the half hour mark and both Ramsey and Park had seen a shot go wide.  At the break, however, nothing would separate the two.

The second half would be less remarkable than the first, and but was Marseille again who tried to make an impact early on.  Half way through the second period, Wenger subbed in Rosicky and Van Persie in an attempt to secure progression to the next round.  No such luck.  RVP had one decent chance but it was the visitors who dominated the final moments of the fixture.  At the whistle, the Marseille players were clearly happy with their performance, while the home sides showing was at least a decent outing.
A microcosm of the evening's events

There's hardly much to show from this game, but its important that the Gunners are still on top.  Its not a bad result all told, and honestly, its the first time this year that Arsenal could've afforded a draw.  The defense played well despite being tested by a quick Marseille attack.  As the campaign progresses, confidence and chemistry continue to grow on Arsenal's back line.  The Dortmund game will be a big one and the Gunner's must focus on that match before they can dream of the knockout stage.

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