Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Arsenal 0 Marseille 0

A home draw and missing out on the chance to qualify for the knock-out stages were disappointing. On the back of the weekend's sensational win and superb performance, Arsenal were expected to win and seal their place in the last 16 on the night. Although Marseille was a strong side, with organised defence closing down Arsenal very effectively, we had chances to win the game in the first half.

Prior to the first Marseille match two weeks ago, Arsene Wenger said he was targeting four points from the two matches and we have achieved it, so the draw against the arguably strongest contestant in Group F is not such a bad result. It is certainly not a disaster as we are still top of the Group.

So many players were below-par. Ramsey missed a few good chances. Especially he dwelled so long on the ball in the box only to allow Marseille defenders to come back and block his effort. Gervinho's ball control let him down last night. Park was a passenger throughout the game. He could have impressed the fans and the boss if he had had a better touch on the pass from Walcott.

Most of the players looked tired and short of sharpness after the weekend's intense game. Maybe Arsene Wenger should have rotated more players rather than just resting RVP? That said, Rosicky and Arshavin, who didn't play a large part in the game three days ago, were also lacklustre. Ramsey had covered more than 9 km in distance by the time he came off the pitch. So you could not blame him for not woring hard. Probably the effect of the Chelsea game was more psychological than physical.

On the positive side, Vermaelen completed his first full 90 minutes flawlessly. The Mertesacker-Vermaelen pairing looked good, as if they had been playing together for a long time. The pair even had a chance to score a rare set-piece goal between them. What a dream start to the new partnership it would have been! The partnership looked very solid defensively. That's what matters, and the partnership only grows from now on. This means that Koscielny, who was excellent against Chelsea, can be deployed on the right back, although I suppose that Wenger prefers to play Jenkinson as the right-back, when he is available.

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