Robin van Persie's electric form
and Arsenal's return to winning ways have given the English side
the belief they can beat any team in Europe before hosting
Olympique Marseille for a Group F Champions League match on
Despite some lapses at the back, Arsenal played some
outstanding football in their 5-3 win at Chelsea on Saturday
with Van Persie sparking the victory with a hat-trick to take
his goals tally to 28 in his last 27 Premier League games.
After a stuttering start to the season, confidence has
improved thanks to a run of five successive wins in all
competitions, which they are confident of extending at the
Emirates Stadium against their French visitors.
"The way we're playing at this moment in time we believe we
can beat anyone," winger Theo Walcott told local media.
"We're enjoying our football, our run is great now and we're
just going to keep on continuing that. Everyone is buzzing at
"Robin's form is fantastic. It makes our job much easier
when he plays like that."
Since losing to arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on October 2,
Arsenal have managed Premier League wins over Sunderland, Stoke
City and Chelsea as well as beating Bolton Wanderers in the
League Cup and Marseille in the Champions League.
Marseille come to England after beating Dijon 3-2 in Ligue 1
on Saturday, but although they, like Arsenal, have begun to
improve domestically, it will be a major shock if they get the
better of the Londoners who won 1-0 in Marseille two weeks ago
when Aaron Ramsey scored a stoppage-time winner.
Arsenal also have a great record at home in the group stage
of the competition, having won 20 of their last 24 group games
and drawn the other four since losing to Inter Milan at their
old Highbury ground in September 2003.
It now seems hard to believe that Arsenal won only one of
their opening four league matches and suffered an 8-2 defeat by
Manchester United and a 4-3 loss at Blackburn Rovers in
successive away league matches at the start of the season.
"What has changed is that we got half of the team on August
31," manager Arsene Wenger said after the win over Chelsea. "We
had to rebuild complete unity in the way we wanted to play
football. Every win makes you stronger."
Arsenal are top of the group with seven points from three
games, followed by Marseille, who are a point behind. Olympiakos
(three points) and Borussia Dortmund (one) meet in the other
game, so a victory for the Gunners would put them on the verge
of a place in the last 16.
Marseille have endured a rocky few weeks but Saturday's
battling win at Dijon in Ligue 1 looks to have given coach
Didier Deschamps some breathing pace as he plots a way of
winning at the Emirates.
The 1993 European champions started their campaign well with
wins at Olympiakos and at home to Dortmund before the last-gasp
1-0 Stade Velodrome defeat by Arsenal.
Fans also staged a silent protest at the club's mediocre
display during the 2-0 win over Ajaccio on October 22.
Two French top flight wins on the bounce and a League Cup
last-16 victory have boosted OM's confidence, however.
Deschamps has switched to 4-4-2 from 4-3-3 to good effect
and has left previously key midfielders Alou Diarra and Lucho
Gonzalez on the bench of late, although France's Diarra came on
to score the 82nd minute winner at Dijon.
Whether France's 1998 World Cup-winning captain will stick
to his guns in London remains to be seen.
"We could play 4-4-2," the former Chelsea midfielder told
"But is it a system that can pose them problems without
putting us in difficulty? I saw their match at Stamford Bridge,
they conceded three but the three in midfield and three up front
"I still have time to ponder 4-4-2. I am going to rotate a
bit anyway because of tiredness."
Forward Jordan Ayew and defender Rod Fanni are back from
European bans for the Group F clash but Stephane Mbia is still
out with a metatarsal injury.
Arsenal: 13-Wojciech Szczesny; 25-Carl Jenkinson, 4-Per
Mertesacker, 6-Laurent Koscielny, 11-Andre Santos; 8-Mikel
Arteta, 17-Alex Song, 16-Aaron Ramsey, 14-Theo
Walcott; 27-Gervinho, 10-Robin van Persie
Olympique Marseille: 30-Steve Mandanda; 24-Rod Fanni,
21-Souleymane Diawara, 3-Nicolas N'Koulou, 15-Jeremy Morel;
28-Mathieu Valbuena, 8-Lucho Gonzalez, 4-Alou Diarra, 20-Andre
Ayew; 11-Loic Remy, 10-Andre Pierre Gignac
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)
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