Deschamps welcomes Champions League return
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Didier Deschamps expects the return of the UEFA Champions League to invigorate his side as they look to put domestic concerns behind them and get the better of Arsenal FC in Group F.
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Didier Deschamps expects Olympique de Marseille to put their domestic struggles behind them as the Group F leaders take on second-placed Arsenal FC on Wednesday. OM have won just once in ten Ligue 1 outings this season, yet have a perfect record from two UEFA Champions League matches and know a third successive victory would leave them handily placed to reach the knockout rounds.
Coach Didier Deschamps
I won't be satisfied with a draw. We have two games against Arsenal and need to take points as these six points could be decisive. I don't want to compare their position in the Premier League with ours in Ligue 1, but Arsenal are a competitive team who can upset any team in Europe. The situation will be a bit clearer tomorrow; if we can take three points it would put us in the ideal position to reach the knockout rounds.
In the league we have to get positive results; in the Champions League it's different – the players are a bit more relaxed and have less pressure on them. Since arriving here I've followed a footballing logic and I make decisions according to this logic. Tomorrow my players will be motivated but they need to have more confidence. We won't have our backs against the wall like in the league and the players will be able to take more risks. Our aim is to get through the group, and to get as many points as we can to stay top of it.
Saturday: Toulouse FC 0-0 Marseille
Mandanda; Morel, N'Koulou, Diawara, Fanni; Cheyrou, Lucho, Kaboré, Amalfitano; Rémy (J Ayew 61), A Ayew (Gignac 83)
• Already without the suspended Alou Diarra, Mathieu Valbuena and César Azpilicueta, Marseille were further depleted following the 58th-minute dismissal of Charles Kaboré. OM have won more games in the UEFA Champions League (two out of two) than in Ligue 1 (one in ten) this season.
Rod Fanni and Jordan Ayew are suspended but Benoît Cheyrou (hamstring) and André-Pierre Gignac (groin) shook off knocks to face Toulouse. Stéphane Mbia (broken metatarsal) and Djimi Traoré (foot) are out.
Manager Arsène Wenger
We play with less pressure in Europe, a bit like Marseille. But there was great pressure on us at Udinese [in the play-offs] and that was our best game – I hope we can repeat it tomorrow. We've lost some games because of inexperience, some players were signed late and it takes time to adapt. As far as we're concerned we are on our way back in the league, are on a good run and are not giving up on it. It would be disaster not to be in the Champions League at the end of the season.
We are playing in this competition for the 14th consecutive time. Our club wants to play at the highest level but the competition has increased in England. And we cannot afford to lose any more games as our group is very open, especially with a team like Dortmund who are not out of it yet. Marseille are strong defensively and dangerous on the counter; they are in a false position in the French league. They are also very strong in midfield – the midfield battle will be very important.
Sunday: Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland AFC (Van Persie 1 82; Larsson 31)
Szczęsny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs (Santos 51); Rosický (Benayoun 77), Song, Arteta, Walcott; Gervinho (Arshavin 68); Van Persie
• Robin van Persie broke the deadlock after 29 seconds, hit the woodwork and then struck the winner direct from a free-kick as Arsenal claimed their fourth win in five outings. Wenger's team have collected only 22 points from their last 19 league matches, however.
Kieran Gibbs went off with a stomach muscle strain early in the second half against Sunderland and is out for around a fortnight. Apart from the long-term absentees – Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby (all ankle), Bacary Sagna (broken leg) and Sébastien Squillaci (calf) –Wenger says "everyone else is available", including Aaron Ramsey after a hamstring strain.
Arsenal have not had an away game in France since 2002/03, when they won 1-0 at AJ Auxerre in the UEFA Champions League first group stage. They also won on their previous two visits and in seven games have won four and drawn three.