Arsenal to Face Marseille Youngsters in Crucial Champions League Encounter

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2013

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 18:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal battles with Lucas Mendez of Olympique de Marseilleduring the UEFA Champions League group F match between Olympique de Marseille and Arsenal at Stade Velodrome on September 18, 2013 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Marseille coach Elie Baup has suggested he will field a team of younger players when his side face Arsenal in the upcoming Champions League fixture.

The Ligue 1 outfit have nothing left to play for in this year's competition, but Arsenal must produce three points if they are to maintain control of their destiny in their fight against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund for qualification into the knockout stages.

As reported by Chris Richards of the Mirror, Baup may take the opportunity to experiment:

We're eliminated from the Champions League but we need to show some good things. It will perhaps be the occasion for some young players to gain some experience.

Arsenal performed well to beat Marseille 2-1 during their first group game of the season, a match which saw Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey secure victory before Jordan Ayew's late penalty for the hosts.

Walcott recently returned from injury to feature for 20 minutes in the 2-0 win over Southampton, as reported by Sky Sports. He could come into contention for the crunch tie, while Marseille will be without the likes of Ayew and Dimitri Payet, per Richards' report.

Marseille currently occupy fourth in Ligue 1 and are 10 points off Paris Saint-Germain at the top. Even though the Gunners currently lead the Premier League by seven points, Santi Cazorla believes their next visitors will still offer a stern test in front of the Emirates crowd, as reported by the club's official website:

The main problem I see is that everyone thinks that it's not going to be an easy game for us to win. There is nothing at stake for Marseille because they have zero points but they are going to make things difficult for us.

NAPLES, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06:  Elie Baup head coach of Olympique de Marseille during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between SSC Napoli and Olympique de Marseille at Stadio San Paolo on November 6, 2013 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Should Arsenal capture victory and Dortmund fail to beat Napoli at the Westfalenstadion, the Gunners would be guaranteed a place in the round of 16.

Failure to beat Marseille would ensure a difficult trip to Naples in the final match, ensuring there's plenty riding on the next encounter.

Arsene Wenger should be confident of comfortably toppling the French side, whether Baup fields a younger team or not. However, experience counts for plenty at Europe's top table, so experimentation on the part of Marseille can only be good news for Arsenal.