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UEFA Champions League

  • September 18, 2013
  • • 2:45 PM
  • • Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
  • Referee: Olegário Manuel Benquerenca
  • • Attendance: 38380

UEFA Champions League Preview: Marseille - Arsenal

With matches against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund to come, the Gunners know that a positive result at the Stade Velodrome could prove crucial to their qualification hopes

Arsenal opens its Champions League campaign at Marseille, hoping that its experience can carry the team through a tough group.

Arsene Wenger's men head to the Stade Velodrome for their first encounter in Group F on Wednesday and know that they will need to start well, with difficult games against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund to come.

Arsenal has qualified from the group stage in each of the last 13 seasons, reaching the final in 2005-06 and the semifinal in 2008-09.

Defender Laurent Koscielny is aware of the importance of beginning with a win and feels that the Gunners' past experience in the competition could prove vital as they attempt to negotiate their way into the knockout stages.

"The most important thing in the Champions League is to start well," the Frenchman told the club's official website.

"We are experienced in the Champions League and are all looking forward to this challenge again.

"We know this will be a big challenge for us but we did well against Marseille and Dortmund the last time we played and we are confident of doing it again."

New Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil will make his Champions League debut for the club and, after impressing on debut on Saturday, it would not surprise to see him star again.

But Arsenal will head into the game with a host of injuries, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Santi Cazorla (ankle) and Mikel Arteta (thigh) all set to miss out. Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Abou Diaby (knee) are long-term absentees, while Yaya Sanogo (back) and Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) are both expected to be unavailable.

And there is also doubt over the participation of in-form French forward Olivier Giroud, who was substituted in Arsenal's 3-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday with a knee injury.

Giroud has scored in all four Premier League matches that he has played in this season.

Marseille, by contrast, has a near-fully fit squad to choose from - center back Souleymane Diawara is the only anticipated absentee - and it should approach the game with some confidence, having lost just two home games in 2013.

The French side will have the support of the vociferous crowd at the Velodrome, but its performance in Europe last campaign was far from impressive, with Elie Baup's men exiting the Europa League in the group stages.

Arsenal secured a 1-0 win in its last visit to Marseille in 2011 as Aaron Ramsey scored an injury time winner.

Marseille reached the last eight of the competition in that campaign, despite that group-stage defeat, while it won the tournament in the 1992-93 season.

The squad has made a strong start to its Ligue 1 campaign, losing just one of its first five games, and, with attackers Dimitri Payet and Andre-Pierre Gignac having scored six goals between them so far, it has enough quality to trouble a fragile Arsenal defense.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Olympique Marseille



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