Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gunner news: Olympique de Marseille 0-1 Arsenal

Aaron Ramsey stuns OM with late winner for the Gunners

There was to be little excitement at Stade Velodrome, though the Gunners can be delighted with their victory against Didier Deschamps' insipid side

Champions League,Steve Mandanda,Theo Walcott,Olympique de Marseille v Arsenal FC

Arsenal moved top of Champions League Group F, and they can consider their 1-0 victory over Marseille at Stade Velodrome as a competent European performance.

An uninspiring 90 minutes were up by the time Aaron Ramsey was given acres of space on the edge of the box to drive home the game's only goal.

The first half was a largely evenly balanced affair, which was often played at a surprisingly high tempo from both teams, but it would be littered with technical errors, as would the match as a whole.

It was the Gunners who came closest to scoring when Robin van Persie had a header cleared from the line by Souleymane Diawara following a corner kick that caused the hosts real panic, but it was OM who created the greater volume of chances.

In the early stages of the game, Didier Deschamps’ men were restricted to long range efforts, though by the interval they had fashioned two fine openings. Loic Remy’s persistence down the left channel saw him get the better of Per Mertesacker, but his final effort was deflected wide by Carl Jenkinson. Five minutes later, a Mathieu Valbuena cross was prodded just wide by the largely anonymous Lucho Gonzalez.

After the interval, the Premier League side took a firmer grip on proceedings and started to dominate possession. Too often their passing around the box was sluggish or simply inaccurate, though Marseille’s defence stood up well to the threat of the London side.

A terrible error from Nicolas Nkoulou was the exception to this rule, as it released Theo Walcott in the box. Having spurned several good crossing opportunities early in the match, the England international was found wanting in front of goal, with his effort kicked clear by Steve Mandanda.

Even the intermittent threat that Marseille displayed in the first half disappeared following the break. Remy was left isolated for long periods, while Arsenal’s defence managed to crowd out the likes of Valbuena and Andre Ayew.

It was the visitors who finished the match stronger, and in the closing 10 minutes they carved open a handful of openings before Ramsey was finally left to crack the winner. The Welshman came off the bench to sweep home Gervinho's cross with virtually the last kick of the game, and hand the London club victory.

Given the impotence of Marseille, it was hard to argue that Arsene Wenger’s men were not deserving winners of this encounter, and now head into their final three group matches one point clear of the French side, whose lack of ambition merited their defeat.



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