Marseille - Arsenal
Skipper Van Persie's form could see Marseille concede their first goal in Europe this season. Reuters

Arsenal travel to France to face Group F leader Olympique Marseille in Champions League action at Stade Vélodrome on Wednesday.

Marseille defeated Olympiakos in Greece, 1-0, and at home against Borussia Dortmund, 3-0. Manager Didier Deschamps's squad finished in second place in Ligue 1 last season, but this season they have languished with only one win in 10 matches.

Les Phoceens are well acquainted with Premier League clubs. Marseille held their ground with Manchester United and Chelsea in last year's Champions League. In the four matches, Marseille were outscored 4-2, and finished with a respectable record of one win, one draw, and two losses against the two Premier League giants.

Marseille will be without injured defensive midfielder Stephane Mbia, who remains interested in joining Manchester United on transfer, along with 20-year-old Jordan Ayew, and right back Rod Fanni, who are serving suspensions.

    However, creative midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, who had been subject to transfer speculation with Arsenal over the summer, is back in action. Marseille are also led by Arsenal summer transfer target Lucho Gonzalez, along with striker Loic Remy.

    Arsene Wenger's squad have some momentum heading into the match after a 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Sunday. However, Arsenal, as always, have a litany of injuries.

    Kieran Gibbs has a swollen stomach muscle and will be sidelined along with long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, and Abou Diaby. Aaron Ramsey, who has been inactive due to a hamstring strain, might be available.

    Without three of their four regular defenders, Laurent Koscielny, Andre Santos, and Carl Jenkinson will be called upon to slow down a solid Marseille attack.

    In perhaps a surprise move, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not made the trip to France. It's possible that Wenger will call upon Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott off the bench.

    The player to watch, however, will be Robin van Persie. The Dutch striker has been in excellent form recently.


    Marseille (4-3-3):

    G: Mandanda

    D: Azpilicueta, Nkoulou, Diawara, Morel

    M: Diarra, Cheyrou, Gonzalez

    F: Valbuena, Remy, Andre Ayew

    Arsenal (4-3-2-1):

    G: Szczesny

    D: Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Santos

    M: Song, Ramsey, Arteta

    F: Benayoun, Arshavin; Van Persie

    PREDICTION:This should be an even match, as both clubs have holes on defense, but some quality attacking players. The big question is in the midfield. Should Mikel Arteta find passing angles for van Persie, it could be a long night for Marseille. The creativity of Valbuena and Gonzalez will be watched closely as Alex Song and the central defense try to avoid mistakes up the middle. Marseille should put a decent amount of pressure on the Arsenal goal, and get several quality shots off. Expect the Gunners to not relent on their attack, as well, and receive some added firepower off the bench to score in the second half.

    PREDICTED SCORE: Marseille 1, Arsenal 1