LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal in action during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal FC v Olympique de Marseille at Emirates Stadium on November 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Arsenal failed to seal qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League after a 0-0 draw with Olympique Marseille. Despite having several clear chances, they were unable to take any in the first half, before petering out in the second as Marseille got stronger. The arrival of Robin van Persie for Park Ju-Young failed to change the scorline.
Marseille started the better of the two sides, pressing and using the pace of Loic Remy and Andre Ayew on the wings against Carl Jenkinson, who was excellent, and Andre Santos, who was nervewracking at left back.
Arsenal, though, began to come into the game, with Mikel Arteta in particular playing really well, finishing with a 92% pass completion rate and making a couple of excellent tackles.
Aaron Ramsey threaded a through ball for Gervinho, but the Ivorian was unable to control the ball, which was somewhat typical of his performance. Superb in build up play, running at pace against the Marseille defence, but he was unable to have any successful final product in an off day for him. That contributed to the failure of Park to get a goal, as his service was somewhat lacking, with most of Ramsey's passes going to Gervinho. Those two combined again for Arsenal's best chance: Gervinho ran at the the Marseille defence before playing in Ramsey. However, the Welshman delayed his shot, allowing Diawara to get a block in and stop the chance. Later, there were chances for Ramsey from Andre Santos' cross, and Park, after Theo Walcott passed to the South Korean after Gevinho's shot was blocked by Mandanda.
Arsenal seemed to tire in the second half (after all, they had played their hearts out 2 days ago), and stopped pressing, leading to Marseille getting more possession. Andre Ayew sent in some dangerous crosses, and Matheiu Valbuena rolled around to win some free kicks, but with Alex Song cleaning up and Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker being a rock at the back, Szczesny had just one save to make (7 of Mertesacker's 8 clearances finding an Arsenal player) The two central defenders complimented each other well, as did Laurent Koscielny and Mertesacker, and it seems that Arsenal can change between Koscielny and Vermaelen with some ease, with both preferring to attack the ball and have Mertesacker clean up, showing that his performance against Chelsea may have just been a blip. What is more interesting is how Vermaelen and Koscielny play together; they've only done so for 90 minutes this season.
Robin van Persie, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky came on, but were unable to grab the goal that would send Arsenal through. Van Persie, though, had a chance: Rosicky's superb through ball went straight past the Marseille defence, and van Persie was 1 on 1 with the keeper. However, instead of smashing the shot, he went for the audacious chip, which was saved.
So, Arsenal will need at least a draw with Dortmund, and possibly a win depending on other results on Match Day 5. They still lead the group, and a draw in Marseille will send them through whatever the result is next week, but a win is so much nicer.
But, because we failed to win (courtesy of pdb):
ARSENAL FAIL TO WIN CL GROUP AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE; ARE IN CRISIS