Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refused to underestimate Marseille ahead of tonight’s Champions League opener at the Stade Vélodrome. After a string of wins, including a solid 3-1 win at Sunderland just four days ago, the Gunners boss insists his side will go for the three points.
“It is the toughest group. All four teams have a chance of qualifying,” Wenger commented at last night’s pre-match press conference.
“On average, you need 10 points to qualify. We can’t say now that we will get nine points at home, so the start of the competition is very important for the confidence of the team. We will try to win.
“Marseille is a city where the people are always very passionate and the team is usually very hard to beat. They are strong defensively, physically strong. And they have a fearsome attacking quartet of Valbuena, Ayew, Payet and Gignac – players who are all capable of making the difference.
“Some say that Dortmund and Napoli are our main rivals, but I would say they are at the same level.”
In form Aaron Ramsey – scorer of Arsenal’s only goal when Wenger’s men last won in Marseille two years ago – should start once more, Olivier Giroud is expected to pass a late fitness test, while Mesut Özil will feature in his first-ever European match for The Gunners after his £42m deadline day move from Real Madrid.
Per Mertesacker should also return to the back after missing the Sunderland game due to illness, allowing Bacary Sagna to return to his normal right back position.