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Determined Marseille nullify Arsenal intent

Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011, 22.48CET
Arsenal FC 0-0 Olympique de Marseille
The hosts failed to book a place in the knockout stages but maintained their one-point lead over the French side at the Group F summit.
by Trevor Huggins
from Arsenal Stadium
Determined Marseille nullify Arsenal intent
Marseille's Jordan Ayew (left) vies for the ball with André Santos ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011, 22.48CET

Determined Marseille nullify Arsenal intent

Arsenal FC 0-0 Olympique de Marseille
The hosts failed to book a place in the knockout stages but maintained their one-point lead over the French side at the Group F summit.

Arsenal FC missed their chance to book a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as the Group F leaders were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Olympique de Marseille.

Two weeks after Arsenal grabbed a last-gasp 1-0 win at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille showed real attacking flair in the first half and defended in sufficient numbers during the second to thwart the hosts' hopes of a repeat. Arsenal struggled to create clear-cut chances, though what they did fashion never looked like beating Steve Mandanda, on superb form between the posts.

The French side had been quicker to settle into their stride with André Ayew firing just wide as he latched onto a teasing low cross from Loïc Rémy, whose pace and attacking threat frequently caused the home side problems. Arsenal were restricted to a couple of low drives from Theo Walcott and Gervinho before a half-chance fell to Aaron Ramsey, the Wales midfielder unable to direct André Santos' cross to the far post on target.

Despite both sides having plenty of ambition, neither was able to carve out a really gilt-edged opening. Shooting opportunities continued to fall for both, but Mandanda was equal to Gervinho and Ramsey's best efforts while Rémy steered an angled low drive just beyond Wojciech Szczęsny's post. Mikel Arteta had no better luck for Arsenal, curling a free-kick wide shortly before the break as the home side probed Marseille's rearguard in vain.

The high tempo resumed after half-time and Arsenal continued to press in search of the breakthrough goal that would take Arsène Wenger's men through to the knockout stages. But Walcott was unable to get a clean shot away after a run into the area and Carl Jenkinson's fierce drive from the right was well gathered by Mandanda at his near post.

After an hour, Wenger had seen enough and replaced Park Ju-Young with Robin van Persie, whose hat-trick on Saturday propelled Arsenal to a 5-3 win against Chelsea FC; his arrival was greeted with the loudest roar. The Dutchman was put through in the 77th minute, only to suffer the same fate as his team-mates when he tried to chip Mandanda. It was not the hosts' night, and the section remains there for the taking.

Last updated: 03/11/11 1.29CET

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