Marseille vs. Arsenal: Players Who Can Make the Difference for the Gunners

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Aaron Ramsey (L) of Arsenal celebrates with team mate Yaya Sanogo after scoring his sides second goal during the UEFA Champions League Play Off Second leg match between Arsenal FC and Fenerbahce SK at Emirates Stadium on August 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

English clubs have plenty of making up to do in the Champions League.

Arsenal performed excellently to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Allianz Arena in last season’s round of 16 second leg, but a 3-1 home loss in the opening clash saw Arsene Wenger’s men eliminated via the away-goal rule.

The Gunners face a tricky trip to Marseille in their opening 2013/14 Champions League fixture and will be confident of starting their Group F campaign with a positive result on Sept. 18. Can Wenger mark his return home with an emphatic win?

Let's take a look at the players who can make the difference for the North London club.


Olivier Giroud

This is the perfect time for Giroud to take on Ligue 1 opposition. Having grown accustomed to the threat of Marseille during his spell at Montpellier, the Arsenal man knows exactly what it takes to better France’s better sides.

Giroud travels to his homeland having scored four goals in four Premier League appearances this season, proving many doubters wrong with his slick form. The 26-year-old is playing with immense confidence right now, summed up by his sudden willingness to smartly lay the ball off and create space with runs into the box.

The French international’s finishing appears sharper, his touch neater and overall play appears to have stepped up a notch. It’s easy to forget he is a powerful presence with real heading ability, a trait that will come to the fore against Marseille defenders such as Souleymane Diawara, Rod Fanni and Nicolas N’Koulou.


Aaron Ramsey

Another player who appears to have shrugged off his tag as a burden, Ramsey’s consistent form should come as no surprise to Gunners fans. The Welshman improved massively toward the end of last season with tidy displays in Arsenal’s run toward fourth in the Premier League.

This campaign, Ramsey appears to have added the scoring touch to his game. The 22-year-old netted two quality goals in the recent 3-1 win over Sunderland and thrust Arsenal toward Champions League qualification with three goals in two matches against Fenerbahce.

Similar to Giroud, Ramsey appears more comfortable in a system that sees Arsenal’s midfield and attack interchange seamlessly. He is being afforded the opportunity to break toward the opposition’s box and has managed to underline his potential as a goalscorer, rather than solely focus on being a hardworking battler in the centre.


Mesut Ozil

Having highlighted his immense quality with an assist on his Gunners debut against Sunderland, Ozil’s performances have the capability to define how far Arsenal go in the Champions League this year.

The German international is vastly experienced at this level of the game and adds a sense of class to an already stylish team. For players like Giroud and Ramsey, Ozil’s role within the side has the ability to create great freedom.

Real Madrid fans know they have let a calm, creative and exciting talent slip from their grasp. Ozil’s ability to collect the ball, move forward and distribute provides his teammates with the opportunity to burst free of the opposition.

Whether this allows Giroud to grab a yard on an incoming defender or Ramsey the chance to take up position on the edge of the area, Ozil is the type of player who can make the difference in any game with a shift of balance or intricate pass.


Which players will make the difference for Arsenal against Marseille? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to discuss the match with me on Twitter: