Arsenal could take a big step towards qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages with victory at home to Marseille on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on ITV1).
The Gunners top Group F alongside Napoli with nine points from four matches. Borussia Dortmund are third on six, while Marseille prop up the group with not a point to their name.
Arsenal come into Tuesday’s match on the back of a 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday that saw them maintain their position at the top of the Premier League table. They have lost just twice in accumulating 28 points from nine wins and one draw.
Arsene Wenger’s side have enjoyed similar success in Europe, winning away to Dortmund and Marseille and at home to Napoli. After losing at home to Dortmund, Arsenal’s win in Germany was particularly impressive – a strong defensive performance parlayed into three points by a strike on the hour mark from Aaron Ramsey.
Ramsey has been one of Arsenal’s most noteworthy performers so far this season, driving forward from the centre of the pitch and displaying good quality in the final third. Another has been Olivier Giroud (pictured), who took his goal total for the season to 10 with a double in the win over Southampton. He is a good focal point up front: strong and positionally aware.
Good defensive organisation has also contributed to Arsenal’s success, with the central defensive partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker particularly impressive. They have kept four clean sheets and conceded just twice in the last six matches in which they have been paired.
The Gunners will definitely be without the injured Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby for this match. Theo Walcott made a brief 20 minute cameo off the bench on Saturday on his return from injury and is again likely to be part of the squad.
Marseille come into the match on the back of a 3-1 win away to Ajaccio on Friday. They are some way off the pace of Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, but have made a solid enough start to the season with 24 points from seven wins, three draws and four defeats.
Elie Baup’s men have been less impressive in Europe. Four consecutive defeats have left them with no chance of progressing to the Champions League knockout stages. Even the Europa League place they would gain by finishing third looks an unrealistic proposition, with wins away to Arsenal and at home to Dortmund required for them to have any chance.
Marseille do, however, have enough talent to cause Arsenal problems, particularly in the attacking midfield zone. Mathieu Valbuena was very impressive in France’s World Cup playoff victory over Ukraine, busily scuttling across the pitch and producing moments of sublime invention, while Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin both have a keen eye for goal.
In defence, Nicolas Nkoulou – an athletic defender who has been linked with a January move to the Gunners – and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda have both been on the pitch for every minute of Marseille’s league and Champions League campaigns. The pair of them will have to be at their best if Marseille hope to come away from the Emirates with a positive result.
Baup will be without forward Andre Ayew for Tuesday’s match after the Ghanaian twisted his knee on international duty last week. First-choice defender Rod Fanni will face a late fitness test after missing the win over Ajaccio with a groin injury.
Arsenal vs Marseille Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal were 2-1 victors when these sides met in France in the first match of the group stage, with goals from Walcott and Ramsey seeing them to victory in a closely contested encounter. They also met in the group stage of the 2011/12 competition, with Arsenal winning away and the match at the Emirates ending in a 0-0 draw.
Arsenal travel to Italy to face Napoli on the final match day and will be determined to put themselves in as strong a position as possible by winning here. The Gunners are in excellent form, performing well at both ends of the pitch. With Marseille having little to play for Arsenal should be relatively comfortable victors.
- Marseille have been behind at half-time in three of their four group stage matches, while Arsenal have led at half-time in seven of their nine home matches so far this season, going on to win all of them. Back Arsenal to be winning at half and full time @ best odds of 5/6 with BetVictor.
- Arsenal have opened the scoring in 15 of their 18 league and European matches so far this season, with either Ramsey or Giroud scoring the first goal on eight of those occasions. With this in mind, back Olivier Giroud or Aaron Ramsey to score first @ 13/10 with William Hill.