Marseille 0 – 1 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

One-Nil to the Arsenal. Thank you very much.

I would have been happy with a draw so a win, and that too in such a manner with a clean sheet to boot, has put me over the moon – which is a lovely place, you should join me. Ah! I see many are already here and some others on their way. Wonderful.

I need a few deep breaths before writing this so you aren’t blinded by all the moonshine. Ok, enough with the euphoria-induced stupid jokes, let’s get to the match.

I thought this was a very exciting tactical battle and Arsene won it with his experience.

For large parts of this game many Gooners might have been frustrated and nervy. Marseille were looking a lot more threatening while Arsenal weren’t really creating quality chances that one expects/demands.

Deschamps deserves credit for pushing his players up the pitch to press Arsenal and prevent the Gunners from bringing the ball out with ease. The approach disrupted Wenger’s side and possession was squandered time and again. When the Gunners did string a few passes together – which was a hard task mind – it usually ended in a unsuccessful cross from wide on the right. Jenkinson or Walcott the player looking clueless with only Van Persie a target against four or five defenders. I don’t blame the wide players despite the statistic reading 0 successful out of 28 attempted crosses at one point.

The problem here was that Arsenal kept the midfield deeper to provide better cover to the defence. This meant Marseille couldn’t really test Szczesny despite having the ball in dangerous areas. Wenger mentioned Marseille were lethal on the break and this would have been a tactic to counter that.

On the flip side, Arsenal couldn’t get enough bodies forward to support Van Persie. It’s an issue of finding the right balance and Wenger hasn’t achieved that on a consistent basis. When that’s the case, I’d take a strong defensive performance over a flamboyant but leaky effort.

I believe Arsenal need better structure/shape in such games but for now hard work and concentration will have to suffice.

Ultimately, the tactics of both sides meant there weren’t many highlights-worthy moments in the first half. There was a penalty shout in each box. Marseille might be aggrieved that Santos wasn’t shown a second yellow. But by and large I don’t have any complaints against the ref even though the decisions weren’t always to my liking.

The second half started where the first had finished. Marseille got the ball into the Arsenal box but the Gunners always had bodies to protect the goal. It was ugly at times, but effective. On the other side the Gunners only managed a couple of half chances.

In both cases, Walcott and Van Persie got chances from a difficult angle on the right and Mandanda did well to save.

I thought Wenger also won the battle with the right substitutions which were afforded to him by a stronger bench.

Djourou came on for Jenkinson due to an injury but the introductions of Gervinho and Ramsey gave Arsenal greater impetus whereas Gignac and Amalfitano couldn’t make much of an impact for Marseille.

In the final 15-20 minutes Arsenal looked like the team with the momentum and desire as the hosts tired and their pressing waned. Even then the Gunners were cautious not to leave the back door open which prevented a couple of perilous moments from turning into disasters. Song and Koscielny deserve special mention for their work at the back but others did a good job as well.

The goal, I must confess, came out of nowhere. It was however, a result of Arsenal’s greater desire and experience as Marseille lost their concentration and left the defenders without cover at a crucial juncture. It’s the kind of mistake Wenger’s sides have made in the past.

Djourou found himself in space halfway inside the opposition half on the right side after winning a 50-50. His cross was good but clearly directed towards the central players Gervinho and Van Persie. The ball shaved the Ivorian’s skin and fell kindly to Ramsey who’d sneaked into the box from a wide position on the left. The Welshman’s control, composure, and finished underlined his quality.

I wouldn’t say this was a great display from Arsenal. But it was a game which showed Wenger does make subtle tactical adjustments. It also showed the value of his experience and the overall fighting spirit of the squad.

Having said that, I will make my way back down to earth. Two wins on the bounce is just a start and we cannot afford to get carried away.

Individual Performances

Szczesny: Wasn’t really tested despite a number of balls arriving in the box. Was well placed and contributed towards soaking pressure by receiving passes and spreading the ball.

Jenkinson: Energetic performance from a willing worker. Could have done better with some crosses but looking up, he must have been disappointed with the lack of targets. Did win a number of corners though. Tenacious in defence.

Mertesacker: Was beaten by the skill of an opponent on more than a couple of occasions but mainly in a wide position just outside the box. Was strong and decisive in the central areas in front of goal.

Koscielny: Excelled at reading the game. Made a number of vital interceptions/clearances.

Santos: Some of his touches were classy but he also had a languid style which made him look tired and led to a few errors. Will have to buckle down and play with focus if he has to perform every three days.

I thought the back five were impressive. Marseille rarely got a clear look at goal despite having quality players on the ball and good runners. The defensive line was largely solid and they made up for mistakes by being tenacious. For instance, when Remy got in behind from a long chip and beat Mertesacker, Jenkinson got back to cover. Even the right back was beaten but still got back to put a foot in to deflect the shot away from goal. The players worked for each other and protected the goal. It wasn’t the performance of a dominant team but one of a determined side.

Song: Picked up a booking as early as the 4th minute after a loose touch ceded possession in a tricky area. Maintained his composure after that and produced quality tackles in and around the box. Needs to do better with his passing and decision making in advanced areas.

Arteta: Tremendous work rate, good technique on the ball. Provided good cover on the left, especially when Arshavin stayed up.

Rosicky: Looked good on the ball but nowhere near the kind of dominance he showed in the previous game. Fair contribution at the back.

I thought the midfield struggled against the pressing in the first half and for parts of the second. But their primary responsibility seemed to be that of providing cover and that was executed well enough. Usually, when the opponents press the midfielders push up as we saw with Song and Arteta’s positioning against Sunderland. The conservative approach in this game wasn’t easy on the eye but justified and commendable.

Walcott: Will probably be vilified for his crossing but I thought he did well with the limited service for his runs and the lack of options in the box. Honest defensive shift as well.

RvP: Continues to plug away with his work rate – dropping deep, working the channels, rarely a still moment. Didn’t get enough support from the midfield so his effort was even more impressive.

Arshavin: The only truly disappointing performance on the night. Tried as well as he could but wasn’t able to get past his man on the right or the left. Didn’t do enough in defensive areas.

I thought the front three were isolated and out of sync. This must have been a different experience from the usual camping in the opponent half. I would still like to see better tactical utilization of Walcott’s pace when the opponents are pressing so high up. Playing another midfielder on the left might have liberated the Englishman more often.

Subs: All three were involved in the goal! Djourou created the chance by winning the challenge and putting in a good cross, Gervinho got a crucial touch even if unintentionally, Ramsey produced the decisive finish. In general, Djourou looked more confident than in some of the earlier games and was extremely unlucky to get booked for a very good tackle. Gervinho was lively and troubled the defenders with his direct style. Ramsey put in a good shift.

Wenger: Put a strong team out. The repercussions of that will be known in the coming weeks but it should at least produce a confidence boost on the back of table-topping result. Sent his team out with a conservative approach and with a focus on avoiding mistakes. Used the experience, substitutions, and better fitness effectively.

43 Responses to Marseille 0 – 1 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Tim says:

    It was certainly a mature, disciplined performance from which both Wenger and the players should take great heart. Arsene had targeted four points from these two games, signalling that he would be happy with an away draw. And, aside from a couple of wobbles in the first half, that never looked under much threat. We’ve finally ended our run of CL away games without a clean sheet of 17 – worth celebrating.

    Okay, it was a pretty dull attacking performance, but how often in the past have we been frustrated in a game like that and had someone sent off or conceded a silly goal? After Song got that early booking, we all feared the worst, right? But no, they boys stuck together and despite getting zero production from our wingers we found a way to end.

    And how lovely that all three subs should play a hand in the goal. Great cross by Djourou, mis-control by Gervinho but he was at least there to fight for the ball, great finish by Ramsey.

    One-nil to the Arsenal? I’ll take that every week.

  2. NepaliGunner says:

    The right tactic for this game by Wenger, and I think Arsenal did well, although Marseille did back off in the second half. However, my only comment as far as tactics goes is using the long ball more in such games and trying to penetrate early. I did see many occasions where taking a chance with a longer ball could have been more fruitful, but players instead chose a short pass. That is why it seemed lack luster even though I think we played well.

    I think Arteta is the main reason we’ve become more defensively stable. Most people seem to be disappointed with his offensive contribution, but I am delighted with the solidity he has provided. I think him and Song combined make the midfield very sturdy, and is the main reason we now look a lot less vulnerable.

    I do, however, am critical of both wide players today. Arshavin was good in patches, but did look out of sorts. I have come to expect that though. However, Theo has to step up. Our 4-3-3 system relies heavily on the wide players in attack, and Theo has disappointed with his movement. Theo needs to slow down (not kidding) and work on his control and movement. I think his strength of pace has also led him to over rely on it, and seems to struggle when he can’t use it. That is reason we did not create too many chances. Once Gervinho came on, we had a cutting edge that made me think a goal was coming.

    Anyways, a morale boosting win and I now look forward to the next game with more confidence.

    • santori says:

      LAst 15 minutes, OM were tiring. Wenger went for the jugular with Gervinho.

      Space began to open up which lead to our goal eventually in the very last minute (so it’s not just United then!):D

    • santori says:

      Arsharvin (IMO) is better centrally.

      Theo needs to know how to stretch the ball wide when need be and cut in when required. His off ball movement (and the team in general) was also poor.

      This is particularly the case with the midfield when the defenders try to play the ball out. We were a bit better today but the midfield (and wingers) must give the back options to relief them of pressure.

      Good show today but still a bunch of little things to work on here and there which are important.

      • cupsui says:

        agreed i have been calling for wenger to give the little russian a go as attacking mid, he has the skills we lack in that position, he occassional laziness is a worry but he can dribble through playes has vision, creativity and deft passing…he deserves a chance there

  3. jim says:

    Boring? Who cares. We won 1-0. I loved every minute of it (Been so depressed lately that any win is heaven).

  4. Steve says:

    Ayew, Remy, Lucho Gonzalez, Valbuena were all good but not good enough. After Dortmund this was another game that showed Arsenal are better than many of the continental teams that win domestic leagues or cups. Even tactically, highly rated managers like Klopp or Deschamps are nowhere near Arsene.

    I will stay on the moon for a while if you don’t mind. Thanks.

  5. Alex says:

    If Arsenal can reproduce this performance against Stoke on the weekend I will be ecstatic!! With the two wins, Vermaelen signing a new contract and Van Persie making it very clear that he is 100% to Arsenal, looks like we are on the rise!!

  6. 037 says:

    I guess for this season especially, Wenger should use this tactic more often. Until our midfield and attacking unit can be as fluid and in-chemistry as 2 years ago, we probably cannot afford trying to be offensive at a greater chance of risking losing more points

    How many teams planning to park the bus would expect to face a bus-parking Arsenal as well? lol

  7. WOLF says:

    I think today was a perfect example of how good plays on the wings score goals but solidity in the middle wins matches. Very surprised by the communication and quick thinking by our midfielders when on defense. Only thing is they really need to a better job pushing forward and getting bodies in the box dorm our crosses. The only thing I was really disappointed with was our inability to capitalize on corner kicks. We had something like 8 corners, and all we had to show was an insignificant soft header from RVP. Overall very solid performance, more than satisfactory.

  8. cupsui says:

    great result and throughly deserved. I thought you were very generous to Marsielle and Deschamps desi. They played for a point throughout at home and deserved to lose. They put players behind the ball and tried to counter like an away game and arsenal were ready for it.
    Koscienly is Immense!! MOTM. He is getting better and better, maybe a few of those knockers will finally eat their misplaced words and recognise how good this guy is. He has ALL the skills for a quality CB and is always improving!!
    Arteta was very god defensively but it seemed wenger had the offensive reigns on him a bit, but that worked. great determination, fitness and effort.

  9. Dove says:

    I think this is the tactic we have to play away games-defensive stability. The problem we had is there is no a good target man that can exploit the crosses. Jenkion’s crosses could have been used for better had there been a good target man.

    Wenger needs to such a striker that can complement the game plan.

    A win against STOKE, then we would have a rest for one week. Play the reserve team and those unused subs against Bolton.

  10. Weslee says:

    Thank you Desi Gunner for your constant uncritical articles. Your presentations give a more clear view of how the team is progressing in contrast to the shrill voices of negativity.

    Your comment on Theo was spot on. With the stratedgy that Marseilles used, I believe that Theo’s speed was the key to unlocking their defensive side. He should have been used to break their line time and again. Jenkinson should have been feeding him constantly instead of running up the wing. I believe that until he further matures into the position, Jenkinson should be held until the midline as a feeder to the forward position.

    Arshavin will definitely have to be moved to the inside midfield. He just is not able to handle the speed required to attack on the outside. I cannot wait to see how the speedy youngster, Ryo, will do in the outside position.

    One last note, it is too bad that we have so many players going off to the national teams. It would really be beneficial if these players on the Arsenal squad would train consistently with each other without international duties interrupting. This way they could find the rythm necessary to work together.

  11. Rejoice says:

    Great win. Something told me we would not lose this match. How did OM even beat BD? An interesting dimension was BD losing again to the Greeks. This puts us in pole position to win the group. I hope we pick up 6 points against OM and BD. Lets enjoy the victory. Congrats!

  12. cue says:

    great win for arsenal

  13. Paul says:

    The revival begins

  14. Paul says:

    This is more than a win

  15. Arsenal4 says:

    I have to say i fell asleep at 70th minute.
    It was a dross – but i’ll take the win any day. It’s a quite an important win, it will remove a lot of pressure from the team in the next 3 UCL games, but i hope we can close the deal in forthnight so we can focus on PL.

    Not pretty but we’re looking up, 5 wins out 6 games are not so bad at all.

    Let’s take one game at a time.

    One note though – Koscielny was fantastic – a highly underrated CB, i would have him with TV vs. Per at this rate.

    • santori says:

      Koscielny was excellent today but he needs to keep consistent.

      Thought Santos was more than decent today. He is adapting quickly the Brasilian.

      Djourou was surprisingly good at RB (bar the back pass which almost ot us in trouble)…

  16. Charlie says:

    One of the most encouraging things from a very solid performance is that if we can wrap up qualification in the next match Ryo and Oxo can be given a game in the last game or even the last two. This’ll give them very valuable experience, give us a chance to see what they can do and allow some of the first-teamers a rest. Man Shitty, on the other hand, will need to play their stars right up until the last match because they’re struggling in Europe. I know, it’s hopelessly optimistic of me to see them as league rivals at this point but i just can’t help it. Not ready to rule out anything yet, it’s a funny old game.

  17. Easterngooner says:

    Some say it was a lucky win. I don’t think so. It was a well crafted goal and fully deserved as Arsenal’s dominance in the second half grew as the game went on. The only “luck” was that the opportunity came in stoppage time. It has often been said that that to grind out a result when you are not playing particularly well, is the stuff of champions. Well Arsenal ground out the result in a disciplined performance over 90 minutes. Now if only we can have some of the “luck” with our next games with Stoke and away to Chelsea, we would be well on our way this season.

    • santori says:

      As they say :

      Opportunity + Preperation = Success.

      We did the leg work throughout the game to sufficiently tire out OM and finally (with some luck) wore them down in the 93rd.

  18. santori says:

    Wenger started this match correctly with a strong line-up.

    Marseille may seem unambitious but they were in fact solid tactically and were just missing teeth up top.

    We did the right thing in keeping defensive discipline with this one and doing the small things right.

    Toward the final 15 minute, OM started to fizzle away. Gervinho’s impact was significant in causing them added problems as he was popping up in different areas.

    Thought our off ball movement was weak going forward. In particular the wingmen (Walcott). Jenkinson was out wide far too often and whilst youc an’t fault him for his tenacity, he seems to be one dimensional in punting the ball into the box where we were out numbered constantly.

    Again, I think a 4-4-1-1 may suit us better in this instance with teams sitting deep. Arsharvin in particular is more effective IMO just behind a point man.

    In any case, something for us to build on. As I mentioned before, I thought it important for us to play as many of the ‘first team’ as possible. We simply need them to work through getting familiarised with each other and at this point, the least chop and change the better.

    If we keep building on getting the details right in the defense, we will start to gain the confidence back and convert that into our usual passing/attacking verve sooner than later.

    Well done the Arsenal.

    • terry says:

      as much i was frustrated to see arshavin play that kind of football i was actually feeling very bad for him, he is such a talent he needs to play centrally, its not fair wht we are doing to him. if wenger has decided there is no central role for arshavin den we should definately sll him dis summer. if he plays cetrally and mark my words not as a midfilder that most of u have been asking for but as a second striker he will bring back that awsomeness to our game… we would actualy trun to be better than tha fab era.

    • ilham surtila says:

      well done to you too..

  19. Kelvin says:

    Wazn’t you guys that said ramsey waz useless cos as for me he izn’t

    • gunner_expat says:

      Dont think anyone was saying Ramsey was useless, only that he is playing like he was out-of sorts.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      The goal does not really justify anything . Every time he gets the ball he makes 4 semi circles and makes a 6 yard pass or loose the ball right at the edge of the box almost 3 times in every game he has played. At least Denilson was making those passes with a touch and was making the game faster.

      Overall as a midfielder he has been awful this whole season , much worse than Denilson ever was.

      This is not to say he wont come good but he has been $hit this season and no excuse for that.

  20. T2T says:

    The team needs to use TW14 better. There were so many instances were he gave the ball to someone on the right side and immediately started running forward to receive the ball in space but it never came. The team didn’t use TW14’s strength. Look at how easily he went by OM’s RB by playing the ball 10-15 yards and just ran past him.
    I agree that Arshavin is more useful in the middle of the field. The starting XI yesterday could have been
    Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos
    Song, Arteta
    Walcott, Arshavin, Gervinho
    van Persie

    Arshavin is the only player we have who enjoys dribbling in tight areas. The only player who disappointed me yesterday was Santos. He needs some proper coaching on what to do defensively. I have no issues with the handball because he tried heading the ball and it hit his arm but I beieve it was unintentionally – he is looking at the ball trying to head it. The penalty shouts on both sides, actually for me we had 2 incidents in OM 18 yard box, I’ll let untold Arsenal do the ref review.

    3 points and if this had been ManU, DM and the Sun would praise the “stuff of champions”, being able to get 3 points when playing badly.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      We would have been overrun in the midfield and defense would have been horribly exposed with Arshavin in place of Rosicky. With that kind of pressing Rosicky’s possession keeping was very important. I feel Arshavin has never been good with possession especially when the opponents press.

      Arshavin has to be as far away from our goal 🙂 . Fair point about no one using TW14’s runs. Also RVP made some runs and he wanted quicker balls, most of the time it was Arteta who delayed the pass and made simple ball to wings. May be it was for tactical reasons, may be Arteta cant do it. Our whole midfield was conservative may be except Song, i am pretty sure Rosicky can make those passes but yesterday he was also very conservative with his passing.

      It is true that Cesc spoiled me. He is the fastest player i have seen, split second to see a pass and make those passes. Oh he is gone why am i talking about him.

  21. terry says:

    I dont think we used TW badly… he really has no brains at all. he is like gifted with talent and by talent i mean pace, finishing ability good ball control first touch is not bad either.
    but he dosent think at all did u see so many instances were he gave the ball to someone on the right side and immediately started running forward to receive the ball he actually ran into a position where it was impossible to pass the ball.
    Look at how easily he went by OM’s RB by playing the ball 10-15 yards and just ran past him and den what did he do a stupid cross he was so far from the defender had time and space he could have tried cutting in and that need to be a 100% goal if it was somone like messi or villa or nani or any good wing forward he would have seen to it that would turn into a goal.
    he is still young he needs to be coached!!!
    and i think he should play centrally. thats where he would be most effective.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      Actually in the post match talks on the TV here in India , they showed atleast 3 times Theo was making run in front of the space and there were easy passes to make into the space. But both Arteta and Rosicky were guilty of not making that pass. Let us be honest with Theo passing to his feet and asking him to beat his man is too much to ask from him.

      Our midfielders are at the moment very slow in thinking. May be wilshere or even Diaby will fill that void.
      Oh yeah what the hell happened to DIaby was not he supposed to be back in September ? No mentions of Diaby in the press conferences either.
      Even in the last press conference Wenger told we have 8 midfielders in the squad and Wilshere is injured but no mention of Diaby.

  22. frick frick says:

    it wasnt the prettiest of wins but it seems as if Mertesacker is growing as the games pass ( if that’s even possible). And if Koscielny can play half as good as he does in europe then he may just be one of the top prem defenders.

    i dont blame arsenal for the low scoreline but OM’s manager was just so frickin cautious that he was willing to settle for a point at home which was stupid and which arsenal rightly PUNISHED.


  23. Kelvin says:

    A boring game bt a well deserved win,i really miss wilshere n vermintor

  24. el bizarron says:

    I’m calling it a plodding performance. Not pretty in the least, but I’ll more than take it. 5 wins in the last 6 now. Will some love from the media come soon?

    I hope this gives Djourou some confidence after the Blackburn fiasco.

    Here’s to keeping it up against Stoke on Sunday.

  25. Toba says:

    focus-tactical discipline-strength-courage-unity-desire=trophy

  26. John says:

    Arshivan is a disgrace to the game and a disgrace to the club he is a perfect example of what being a bad pro footballer is.

    He has offered nothing to Arsenal going foward and even less defensively its like playing with ten man every time that f**k head if given another chance.

    For his horrible lazy attidue I dropped him and let him play with the U16 until he can be sold in January.

    He owes this club and the fans alot more than he is given it, one basic point even if you arent a good footballer which in fairness he can be at least put in a decent workrate shift where you help the defense when needed and try and keep the ball ticking over in attack????

  27. Denis kiprotich says:

    Happy with the win.

  28. Yang says:

    Good result, think most people are surprised at win. Attacking with few men is not quite easy task for any team and there is real acid test for each attacker’s capability.Sometimes, footy is like porker game. you don’t wager too much when things are not clear and bet big when chance is good.

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