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Marseille 1-2 Arsenal: 4 Things We Learned, The Hero & The Boo-Boy

Arsenal secured a vital 2-1 win over Marseille in their Champions League opener on Wednesday night. Here, Gunner333 gives us 4 things we learned from the game.

Arsenal secured a vital 2-1 win over Marseille on Wednesday night. Here, Gunner333 gives us 4 things we learned from the game, his ‘hero’ and his ‘boo-boy’.

Theo Walcott

Arsenal’s Champions League campaign in the so-called ‘group-of-death’ kicked off with an encounter against arguably the easier of the three sides in our group, Marseille. The Gunners travelled to the Stade Velodrome off the back of a 3-1 win over Sunderland at the weekend which lifted us to second in the Premier League table.

The atmosphere was great in Southern France and Marseille’s biggest threat early on came in the form of Gignac – the French born striker was looking lively and had a few early efforts matched by Szczesny.

From the English point-of-view Walcott was performing best and his shot early in the first half troubled Mandanda. Half time and the flat game looked like it was heading for a stalemate.

It took twenty minutes into the second half for the breakthrough to come, and it came through last week’s boo-boy Theo Walcott who looked as if he had returned to form after recent frustrating displays.

After some more pressure from the away side, a second was scored when Ramsey fired home yet another good strike. Hero turned [potential] villain, Ramsey brought down A. Ayew in the box in the final minute and his brother Jordan converted the penalty to make it 1-2.

Full time and a great opening result to kick-start our European season. Here I analyse four things we have learned from the game and who stood out for the right and wrong reasons.

1. There’s Goals In This Team

With a front line including the likes of Walcott, Giroud, Ozil, Ramsey and [when he is fit] Podolski and Cazorla, we are certainly capable of scoring goals this season. The right combination week-in, week-out is surely the key to getting the correct chemistry and allowing our forwards to flourish. Keeping them fit is going to be important in our search for silverware though.

2. Dealing With Pace

I thought we dealt with the pace of Payet and Ayew well last night and we need to keep this up in future games against Napoli and Dortmund as they are both capable of hurting us with pace and movement. Players such as Aubameyang, Blaszczykowski and Higuain will do damage unless we defend how we did against Marseille. Mertesacker’s reading of the game is vital and it’s complimented by the pace of Gibbs and Koscielny.

3. Flexibility in Midfield

Our fluid midfield seems to be working right now and the inclusion of Flamini could be key. His defensive instincts allow Ramsey to roam forward to link up with the likes of Ozil and Wilshere more and he’s clearly enjoying the new freedom. Wilshere’s best position is clearly in the centre of midfield but he’s doing a decent job on the left right now as our flexibility in midfield allows him to drift inside knowing that someone like Ozil or Ramsey will switch to the left and fill in.

4. Improving Szczesny

Often criticised for his lack of consistency, Wojciech Szczesny has put down a marker for the other Arsenal keepers. Despite conceding in his last two games, he wasn’t at fault for either and has been solid in goal so far this season. A reliable goalkeeper is vital for any team and Szczesny is slowly growing into that role.

Hero – Theo Walcott

Our ‘boo-boy’ from the weekend, it just goes to show what a difference a few days can make. Theo was our main threat in the first half with his pace causing problems early on before he got the vital first goal with a fantastic volley. It was great to see him get off the mark this season and hopefully the flood gates have been opened.

Boo-Boy – Olivier Giroud

It was difficult to find a ‘boo-boy’ this week as the whole team put a shift in against Marseille but the Frenchman failed to make a real impact – despite his outstanding form of late. Not a slating of the striker, simply an analysis of our quietest player on the night.

You can see our player ratings from the game here

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.

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