Second half goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey sealed a victorious start to the Champions League group stage for Arsenal in Marseille. The hosts netted a consolation through Jordan Ayew’s stoppage time penalty.
Marseille’s starting XI contained four current France internationals and a smattering of African talent too. The Gunners meanwhile had one change from the 3-1 Premier League win at Sunderland with Per Mertesacker returning, so Carl Jenkinson made way.
In a first half of few chances Andre-Pierre Gignac and Mathieu Valbuena flicked and curled respective efforts straight at Wojciech Szczesny early on. Andre Ayew then saw a header drop wide as Arsenal failed to clear the second ball from a corner.
Mertesacker later made a vital clearance close to his own goal and Gignac glanced another aerial set piece effort over before the break. Marseille fullback Rod Fanni then fired just wide when in behind the visiting defence early in the second half.
The Gunners responded as record signing Mesut Ozil teed up Kieran Gibbs with a one-two for a close range shot. Steve Mandanda saved for the hosts. Szczesny then saved from Dimitri Payet before Jack Wilshere worked the Marseille keeper at the other end.
Form of his life
- Aaron Ramsey has now scored six goals in seven games for Arsenal this season.
Gibbs made a goal-line clearance when Szczesny and Mertesacker were almost embarrassed by a defensive mix-up on another inconsistent night for Arsenal’s number one. After the hour Arsene Wenger saw his side finally break the deadlock, however.
Walcott volleyed in emphatically after Gibbs’ cross found its way to the back post. Marseille left back Jeremy Morel certainly looked culpable here. The hosts shot on sight, particularly through Valbuena as they searched for an equaliser.
Many efforts went wide, and those that were on target were dealt with one way or another by Szczesny. Ozil missed from close range late on, but the Gunners grabbed a second through Ramsey as his purple patch continued.
Wales midfielder Ramsey raced to the edge of the box and his strike deflected off Nicolas N’Koulou, leaving Mandanda with no chance. Arsenal’s scorer then conceded a stoppage time penalty when he brought down Andre Ayew.
Brother Jordan fired the spot kick into the corner beyond Szczesny, but this Marseille goal came so late that it was a mere footnote. Wenger’s side have now recorded six straight wins in all competitions.
- Marseille: 30 Steve Mandanda (c), 24 Rod Fanni, 3 Nicolas N’Koulou, 4 Lucas Mendes, 15 Jeremy Morel, 20 Alaixys Romao, 25 Gianelli Imbula (14 Florian Thauvin 80’), 17 Dimitri Payet (11 Jordan Ayew 73’), 28 Mathieu Valbuena (29 Saber Khalifa 90’), 10 Andre Ayew, 9 Andre-Pierre Gignac 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Jordan Ayew pen 90’+3
- Arsenal: 1 Wojciech Szczesny, 3 Bacary Sagna, 6 Laurent Koscielny, 4 Per Mertesacker (c), 28 Kieran Gibbs, 20 Mathieu Flamini (31 Ryo Miyaichi 90’+1), 16 Aaron Ramsey, 14 Theo Walcott (17 Nacho Monreal 78’), 10 Jack Wilshere, 11 Mesut Ozil, 12 Olivier Giroud 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Theo Walcott 64’, Aaron Ramsey 84’