Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gunner news: Arsenal 0-0 Marseille

Gunners have to wait for Champions League progression after uninspiring encounter

Gunners put in a frustrating performance, and couldn't break the deadlock despite good chances for Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey in stalemate

CL - Arsenal FC v Olympique de Marseille, Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal were forced to wait for qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League as they played out a 0-0 draw with Marseille in Group F.

The Gunners looked slightly drained, perhaps a hangover from the intense game they won against Chelsea at the weekend, and in the first half were short of class as captain Robin van Persie started on the bench.

Theo Walcott almost put the Gunners into the lead on the 10th minute, as he found space on the right to shoot across Steve Mandanda, but the goalkeeper got a glove on the effort to steer it wide.

At the other end, Wojciech Szczesny was slightly busier than he would have wanted following Carl Jenkinson's short back-pass, dancing around Remy before clearing, much to the relief of the Arsenal support.

Aaron Ramsey should have then opened the scoring on 20 minutes. The Welshman came hurtling onto a cross from an overlapping Andre Santos at the far-post, but wasn't quite in control, having to slide to meet the ball and lashed over the bar.

Following this, the Gunners broke well and Gervinho found Ramsey again in front of goal, but the midfielder was slightly more ponderous on the ball than in the reverse fixture, allowing the defender to get back and block the shot while Walcott advertised his freedom in vain.

The Gunners started the second half at break-neck speed, threatening the Marseille goal on the counterattack, but still with no real end-product.

The ineffectual Park Chu-Young was replaced on the hour mark for Van Persie, but the Dutchman didn't really get much time on the ball in his first 10 minutes on the pitch, despite the rest of his team's efforts.

The match reached the 75th minute without too many more moments of note, as both teams seemed to be settling for a draw.

Then Van Persie got his chance to shine, racing onto a Tomas Rosicky through-ball before looking up to see Mandanda creeping off his line. But the Dutchman's effort was poor, a chip that was easily caught by the goalkeeper, and probably heading wide as well.

Morgan Amalfitano, the Marseille substitute was the next to have an effort at goal, but he dragged his shot wide of the far post as the visitors broke well.

The main moment of quality for Arsenal in the second half came in stoppage time as Van Persie put in a delicious cross, but the left-back Morel flung himself at the ball to clear, and the game was over.

But the match ended goalless, and Arsenal will have a second chance to secure progression from Group F when they face Dortmund on matchday five.


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