Blog by: Shayne
Arsenal got off to the best possible start in their Champions League campaign, recording a 1-2 win over French side Olympique de Marseille at the Stade Velodrome. Goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey were enough to do the job for the Gunners and although Jordan Ayew scored a late penalty in injury time, Arsenal did enough to hang on and open their account in the Champions League this season.
Getting a result against Marseille away from home was never going to be an easy task and Wenger was rightly pleased with his players. Here are four things to take away from the match:
1) Ramsey’s rise continues – The Welsh international had been written off by many as a ‘liability’ or a ‘finished player’ but his form in the beginning of this season has been nothing short of impressive. He has been Arsenal’s best midfield performer in general and has been finding the back of the net on a regular basis, and some of those efforts have been absolute stunners. He was unfortunate to concede the penalty towards the end of the match because replays suggested that it was a bad call by the referees. All in all, he put in another good performance and his rapid improvement continues.
2) Kieran Gibbs solidifies his status as first-choice left-back – His impressive form last season saw him become Arsenal’s first choice left-back ahead of the inconsistent Andre Santos and later Nacho Monreal. The young Englishman put in an impressive performance against Marseille, assisting both goals while also putting in a lot of defensive work throughout the match. Gibbs has improved both his attacking and defensive play in recent times and has featured in all of Arsenal’s Premier League and European matches so far this season. One thing is for sure; if he can keep putting in performances like this, he’ll get a lot more games throughout the season.
3) Marseille paid the price for not taking their chances – Marseille had three good chances to take the lead before Walcott gave the Gunners the lead. Ayew missed a good headed chance in the 22nd minute, Fanni missed a volley early in the second half and Payet’s low cross almost led to a Mertesacker own goal. The French side didn’t look bad for most of the match but the fact that they didn’t take their chances in the earlier parts of the match led to them eventually conceding all three points.
4) Marseille’s defensive organisation needs to be worked on – Defensively, Marseille were a mixed bag. While Lucas Mendes and Rod Fanni were impressive, both Nicolas N’Koulou and Jeremy Morel were poor. Morel in particular had a bad night, capped off when he gave the ball away to Theo Walcott for him to score the opening goal. N’Koulou had an all-round shocker, giving away a few fouls and getting beaten by Ramsey en route to the second goal. It’s clear that manager Elie Baup has a lot of work left to do in order to get Marseille to actually defend as a unit.