Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is wary of the threat an already eliminated Marseille side pose to their hopes of securing a place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Arsenal currently sit top of Group F, but are level on points with Napoli and three points ahead of Borussia Dortmund. A win at the Emirates would send the Premier League leaders into the knockout phase if Dortmund fail to beat Napoli at home. Wenger, though, is refusing to take anything for granted, despite their French opponents having yet to take a point in this season’s competition.
“Of course [Marseille] have nothing to lose and that always makes the French teams very dangerous,” he said, according to Uefa.com. “They have quality, Marseille, and they are in a better period because they won their last two games and that makes them a dangerous team to play against of course. The quality of our concentration and our focus will be vital.”
Wenger has no new injury worries ahead of the clash, with Theo Walcott in contention for a starting berth after making his return from an abdominal injury off the bench in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Southampton. Arsenal can also call upon Mathieu Flamini, with the midfielder having served a domestic suspension at the weekend. If selected, Flamini will be playing against the club where he came through the youth ranks before leaving for Arsenal. Since returning to the Gunners from Milan this summer, the France international has played a major role in the club’s fine start to the season.
Marseille coach Elie Baup could decide to rotate his side for the trip to London, but he is determined not to finish the group without a point.
“We are a group that has a lot of experienced players, but also a lot of young players who are just discovering the Champions League,” he said. “This experience will help their development. In terms of the table and the points then obviously things are not going particularly well, but it is up to everyone to put in a good performance.
“We do not want to end up with no points -- we need to put in our best possible performances in the final two games of the group.”
One of the young players Baup will be hoping will flourish at the Emirates is Florian Thauvin. The winger, who was a key part of France’s triumph in this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, has scored four goals in his last five appearances. However, Andre Ayew and Dimitri Payet are ruled out with injuries.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Flamini, Arteta
Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla
D: Abdallah, N’Koulou, Diawara, Mendy
M: Imbula, Romao
Thauvin, Valbuena, J. Ayew
Where to watch: The Champions League Group F match will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.