Walcott & Ramsey gets Gunners off to perfect start
Jordan Ayew netted a late penalty to set up a nervous final few
minutes, but the Premier League side will fly home happy after a
confident performance in Europe
Arsene Wenger's men earned a win in their
last visit to the Stade Velodrome back in 2011, and they replicated they
feat on Wednesday, Walcott finding the net with a close-range volley
before Ramsey wrapped things up with a fine individual effort after the
Jordan Ayew grabbed a late consolation from the penalty spot for the hosts, but Arsenal held on to claim all three points.
Baup made just one change to the Marseille side that drew 1-1 with
Toulouse on Saturday, Andre Ayew replacing Florian Thauvin on the
left-hand side of midfield.Arsenal's only alteration came in defence,
with manager Arsene Wenger - who has seen his side win five of their
last six competitive outings - opting to select the experienced Per
Mertesacker in favour of Carl Jenkinson.
Marseille made a bright
start to proceedings with Andre-Pierre Gignac and Mathieu Valbuena both
testing Wojciech Szczesny in the early going.
quickly however, Theo Walcott forcing Steve Mandanda into a save with a
close-range effort after beating left-back Jeremy Morel for pace.
it was the hosts that continued to dictate play. Valbuena volleyed over
before Andre Ayew headed narrowly wide after an excellent right-wing
cross from Dimitri Payet.
The visitors struggled to gain a
foothold in the midfield, with Valbuena and 21-year-old Giannelli Imbula
particularly impressive for Baup’s men.
And Marseille almost got
their reward for a positive display shortly before the break, Gignac
heading just over the bar at the near post after powering onto a Payet
Baup's side continued in the ascendancy straight after
the break, Rod Fanni volleying inches wide of the post after good work
down the right from Alaixys Romao.
Arsenal remained an attacking
threat, though, and they almost took the lead in superb fashion, Kieran
Gibbs denied by a fantastic reaction save from Mandanda after latching
on to a deft backheel from Mesut Ozil.
The game quickly became
stretched, with both sides crafting regular goalscoring opportunities,
Payet keeping Szczesny busy with a fierce drive, before Jack Wilshere
drew a near-post stop from Mandanda at the other end.
never looked settled at the back, and they had Gibbs to thank for
keeping them level as he showed great awareness to head a Payet cross
off the line after miscommunication between Mertesacker and Szczesny.
But Marseille were finally made to pay for their profligacy 19 minutes into the second half, Walcott firing a magnificent volley into the top corner after Morel had failed to deal with Gibbs' far-post cross.
and Valbeuna both then went close as the Ligue 1 club searched for an
equaliser, but it was Arsenal who proved the more clinical of the two
sides, Ramsey securing the points as he jinked through the home defence before sending a precise low shot beyond the grasp of Mandanda.
Marseille did get one back in injury time, though, Jordan Ayew scoring from 12 yards after Laurent Koscielny had felled Andre Ayew in the box.