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|A||Real Sociedad||Shakhtar Donetsk|
Mutual respect abounded at the Stade Vélodrome as the two coaches ran the rule over Wednesday's opening UEFA Champions League opponents.
Élie Baup hailed Arsenal FC, on a nine-game winning run away from home, as "one of the top eight teams in Europe" while Arsène Wenger praised Olympique de Marseille's up-and-coming side. There was consensus, too, that Group F will be tight and a good start will be welcome – even if victory is not absolutely essential.
Élie Baup, coach
We know we're not favourites but this is football and we will try to be the team that defies the odds. We are approaching this game with a lot of desire and hunger. Individually Arsenal have a better team but our ambition is to try and perform well.
We are building a young side. These Champions League games are a means of progress and learning for our young and experienced players. We want to achieve something. It will have to be a collective effort.
Arsenal are as good and experienced as previously, one of the top eight teams in Europe. But we will try and cause them problems playing our own game. We will try not to leave spaces between the lines as we know Arsenal like to use spaces. We have to produce a good result for our fans in our new stadium.
Saturday: Toulouse FC 1-1 Marseille (Ben Yedder 66; Mendes 87) Mandanda; Fanni, Mendes, N'Koulou, Morel (Mendy 86); Romao, Imbula, Valbuena, Payet (Khalifa 70), Gignac, Thauvin (J Ayew 53).
• A second goal in as many matches for centre-back Lucas Mendes lifted Marseille to fourth place in Ligue 1. He was 32 games without a goal at the beginning of the month.
Forward André Ayew is available having been suspended on Saturday while defender Souleymane Diawara returned to training on Tuesday after a thigh injury sustained in OM's 2-1 loss to AS Monaco FC on 1 September. The Arsenal fixture may come too soon for the centre-half.
Arsène Wenger, manager
It is a tough group. We will need ten points to qualify and all four teams can qualify. All the games will be important. We will need to pick up points away from home and we will try to win in Marseille. We cannot predict that we will win all our home matches but we will try and start well to get in the right position.
Marseille have great home support, good physical strength and they are strong up front. They are used to playing big games. Marseille are building a good team with young players. It is a smart policy and by playing big matches these players will develop into great talents. I think they can be in the top two teams in the group; it is difficult to predict who will go through, though.
Saturday: Sunderland AFC 1-3 Arsenal (Gardner 48pen; Giroud 11, Ramsey 67 76)
Szczęsny; Sagna, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Gibbs; Wilshere, Özil (Vermaelen 80), Flamini; Giroud (Akpom 90), Walcott (Monreal 89), Ramsey.
• Mesut Özil marked his Gunners debut by setting up Olivier Giroud's opener but it was Aaron Ramsey that stole the show with two smart finishes. The Wales captain has notched six goals for club and country this term, already double what he managed in 2012/13.
Wenger says Giroud has shaken off a knee problem while Özil has got over the worst of his illness. Per Mertesacker is also available following sickness and could start at centre-back alongside Thomas Vermaelen, who made his first appearance of the season following a back problem on Saturday. Mikel Arteta (thigh), Abou Diaby (knee) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring) are long-term absentees.
• Arsenal are unbeaten in their nine visits to France: six victories and three draws. They have won the last five fixtures, including a 2-1 success at Montpellier Hérault SC on matchday one last season.
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