Arsenal vs. Marseille: 4 Best Performers for the Gunners
Arsenal produced a hugely important away victory in the Champions League, by defeating a lackluster Marseille team 1-0, thanks to an injury-time strike by substitute Aaron Ramsey.
The game lacked any real spark. There was plenty of neat possession play, particularly from the Gunners. But there was no creative flair in the attacking areas.
But this was the kind of gritty, resolute win that is almost never seen from this particular version of Arsenal.
Here are the Gunners' four best performers on the night.
4. Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks and this author has been as sceptical as most about his performances this season.
But Arsenal needed a match-winner tonight and the young Welshman answered the call. Ramsey took his goal extremely well, demonstrating his composure and quality in the box.
Ramsey's late winner is his second goal in as many games, a positive boost for a player growing into a position that demands goal scoring as much as technical craft.
3. Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta was composed and efficient at the heart of the Arsenal midfield and made his share of important interventions in defensive areas.
Arteta is becoming key to knitting Arsenal's passing game together and his discipline and movement is beginning to reduce the space between the defensive, midfield and forward lines.
It's still hard not to think that he maybe plays a little too deep for the Gunners. But Arteta's calmness and smart distribution can play a key role in restoring Arsenal's stylish brand of football.
2. Laurent Koscielny
Much-maligned central defender Laurent Koscielny enjoyed easily his best outing in an Arsenal shirt. The Frenchman was assured and most importantly, decisive in defense.
The former Lorient stalwart grew from strength to strength as the game wore on. Koscielny consistently put himself into a position to break up any hint of a threat from Marseille.
If Koscielny can transfer this kind of form to the Premier League, he will present Arsene Wenger with a difficult dilemma once Thomas Vermaelen returns from injury.
Given the dubious fitness and shaky performances of Andre Santos, it could be time to revisit the idea of playing Vermaelen at left-back.
1. Alex Song
Alex Song proved crucial in filling the gaps that appeared in the Arsenal back line. Aside from an early booking, Song's tackling was sure and precise.
The Cameroon international was also steady in possession and provided an outlet for his teammates in every portion of the field.
The only drawback to Song's game, at the moment, is his tendency to try and force through passes. Song's ideas are usually good, but his execution is badly lacking.
Too many passages of neat and promising possession are brought to an end by an overhit pass from Song.
But for the majority of tonight's game Song delivered a resourceful box-to-box performance and was a valuable contributor to every facet of Arsenal's play.
Tonight's victory gives the Gunners seven points and a healthy platform towards qualification. Arsenal's European form has been the best part of their season so far.
They must maintain it and avoid any costly slip-ups at home.