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Football
Arsenal look to steal lead from Marseille
Marseille top Group F in the Champions League however an improving Arsenal will be out to defeat their French rivals.
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2011 20:15
Arsene Wenger will hope Robin van Persie continues his great run of form against Marseille [GALLO/GETTY] 

Arsenal and Marseille will both look to put aside domestic struggles and take control of Group F when they meet in a Champions League match on Wednesday.

Marseille lead Group F with six points, Arsenal have four points, Borussia Dortmund are third with one point and winless Olympiakos are last.

Arsenal have never lost in seven trips to France and are keen to avoid a similar drop-off to last season when they won their first three matches before fading to finish second in their group. That condemned them to a knockout stage matchup with eventual champion Barcelona.

"It must be our aim to win the group, especially after what happened to us last year when we were not top of the group,'' Arsenal playmaker Tomas Rosicky said.

"In the last three games we messed up."

Marseille have won both of their Group F matches without conceding a goal, but remain on-guard against an Arsenal side that are beginning to find their way with four wins in their last five overall.

"Marseille are a direct contender for us," Rosicky said.

"It's a big game and we want to be successful there.''

Domestic bleus

While Arsenal are finally recovering from their poor start domestically after Sunday's 2-1 win over Sunderland put them mid-table, Marseille haven't as they sit just one point above the relegation zone in Ligue 1.

"We're still far from being qualified yet because on paper Arsenal are the strongest team in this group,'' Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said.

"In general, you need 10 points to qualify, and 11 to secure qualification. We have a cushion but we'll have to go and get more points."

Marseille have won only one of 10 matches in the French league and drew 0-0 with Toulouse on Saturday to trail leader Paris Saint-Germain by 14 points.

Still, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remained wary ahead of the trip to the Stade Velodrome despite the French club's poor domestic form.

"Marseille can be dangerous because they are good on the counterattack,'' Wenger said.

"I think at home they will try to play like that against us.

A win over Arsenal will relieve some of the pressure on Marseille manager Didier Deschamps [GALLO/GETTY] 

"The two games against Marseille will decide our qualification. If we take four points, then we will qualify.''

Arsenal remain without midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) and defenders Thomas Vermaelen (ankle), Bacary Sagna (fibula) and Kieran Gibbs (stomach muscle strain), but midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back in the squad after a hamstring injury.

Marseille forward Jordan Ayew and defender Rod Fanni are suspended for that game.

"We will start the match with the goal of winning it,'' Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said.

"We would be in a very good position to qualify in case of victory. But it won't be easy because we will face a very
good team.''

German champion Dortmund visit Olympiakos after drawing 1-1 with Arsenal and losing 3-0 at Marseille.

"We showed in both games that we can match them,'' Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl said.

"There are still 12 points to play for. We are not eliminated yet."

Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 2-0 on Friday to climb to third place in the Bundesliga.

The German club will play without injured defender Patrick Owomoyela (groin) and Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios (calf).

Olympiakos drew 1-1 with AEK Athens on Saturday to share the lead in the Greek league. They will miss through injury Spanish midfielder David Fuster (fractured rib) who scored the club's lone Champions League goal so far.

Source:
AP
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