Arsenal v Marseille – Stalemate delays progress

WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne

ARSENAL 0-0 MARSEILLE

(UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal were made to wait for qualification to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League after being held to a goalless draw at home to French side Marseille.

Arsene Wenger made three changes to his side that beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen and Park Chu Young all started, with hat-trick hero Robin van Persie amongst the substitutes.

Arsenal went into the game top of group F, knowing a repeat of the result in France two weeks ago will secure their passage into the knockout stages.

Marseille threatened right from the start, first going close through Jordan Ayew and then his brother Andre, as they dominated early on. Another chance fell to the visitors as Loic Remy capitalised on an Andre Santos mistake but his shot was deflected over.

Arsenal then had their first attack of the game resulting in a shot for Theo Walcott which was turned behind for a corner by Steve Mandanda.

The hero in France Aaron Ramsey then fired over from close range after being well picked out at the back post by Santos.

Remy immediately threatened once again on the break as his left foot shot went wide but his side showed they could pose a serious threat going forward.

The gunners then wasted a couple of glorious chances. After Gervinho had forced a good save from Mandanda, Park failed to control a pass from Walcott following the rebound and then Ramsey delayed his shot a tad too longer when well placed and lost the chance.

A half which produced chances at both ends finished goalless.

The second half started with Arsenal’s two centre backs combining,  Per Mertesacker flicking on a free-kick for Vermaelen who couldn’t keep his effort down.

Mathieu Valbuena showed good skill in the area but shot over and then left-back Morel sent over a teasing cross but no Marseille player could connect.

Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky were soon injected to give the home side a bit of energy and goal threat.

Marseille forced a succession of free-kicks and kept the gunners pinned back but Arsenal defended well. At the other end, Rosicky fed Van Persie but for once the Dutchman failed to hit the net.

Morgan Amalfitano came on for the Ligue 1 side and caused a few problems down the right, driving a shot wide, before a promising run almost produced a chance. Arsenal had one final chance from a free-kick but that came to nothing as the match finished 0-0.

Arsenal kept their position at the top of the group and will head into the next match against Dortmund knowing that if they avoid defeat, they will move into the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition.

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