Arsenal squandered their chance to
qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with two matches
to play when they laboured to a 0-0 draw with Olympique
Marseille in a dour Group F match at Emirates Stadium on
However, despite failing to ensure progress on the night
with a victory, Arsenal are still well placed to advance as they
top the standings with eight points from four games, with
Marseille second on seven.
Borussia Dortmund have four and Olympiakos three after
Dortmund, who visit Arsenal in their next match, won the group's
other game 1-0.
Tuesday's match was something of a repeat of the team's
Velodrome meeting last month - without the late drama when a
stoppage time goal from Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory.
The Londoners, recovering from a slow start to the season
with five successive wins, were lacklustre on a night manager
Arsene Wenger opted to start without Robin van Persie, the
hat-trick hero of Saturday's 5-3 win at Chelsea.
Wenger said he decided to rest the Dutch striker, adding
that he thought the emotional strain of Saturday's win at
Chelsea in the Premier League had an effect on his team's
Van Persie came on for the later stages but even he failed
to find the spark that would have ignited the home side's
performance, although he did have one good chance when he
attempted to chip goalkeeper Steve Mandanda who easily saved his
Knowing a point would keep each side on course, neither were
prepared to risk too much, with the result that neither took
control of the game and neither created many chances as Arsenal
stretched their unbeaten run in home group stage matches to 25
games dating back to 2003.
Wenger told reporters afterwards: "We wanted to qualify
tonight, but we were not at our sharpest.
"Marseille started stronger than us, but after we got back
in the game we had some opportunities to kill it.
"But you have to give credit to Marseille - they defended
very well and we were not sharp enough. We were emotionally
tired after Saturday's win but we remain on target and know we
can do better."
Marseille manager Didier Deschamps, back in London where he
spent a season with Chelsea, was relatively happy with the
outcome which keeps his team's chances alive too.
"I feel we dominated them at times and we put them under
some pressure. I am quite happy with a point away from home, and
we still have the chance to qualify."
Marseille, starting brightly with an effective 4-4-2
formation with either Andre Ayew or his brother Jordan joining
Loic Remy up front, could have taken the lead after six minutes
when Andre stabbed the ball just wide of Wojciech Szczesny's
left-hand post after a good move involving Remy in the build-up.
Theo Walcott had Arsenal's first chance after 10 minutes
when he hit a low drive just wide, but with Souleymane Diawara
doing an effective job in the front of his back four, Marseille
limited Arsenal's attacking options with some degree of
Aaron Ramsey, scorer of Arsenal's last-gasp winner in the
first match two weeks ago, had two good chances but failed to
convert either of them, sending the ball wide from the first
when he was close to goal and taking too long to strike and saw
the ball cleared with the second.
There were few chances after the break either as the match
petered out to a forgettable draw.
One bright note for Wenger was the sight of his centre-back
Thomas Vermaelen playing the full 90 minutes for the first time
since coming back from an injury he suffered in August.
He gave a typically assured display and Wenger added: "The
positive thing for us was that we did not concede a goal,
Marseille had one shot on target and Vermaelen had a good game
and gave a solid performance."
Berlin will stage Champions League final for the first time in 2015
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand signs one-year contract
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010