Arsenal 0-0 Marseille

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Emirates Stadium
Aaron Ramsey
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey battled hard to find a way through Marseille

Arsenal failed to secure the win they needed to ensure qualification for the Champions League as they were held to a draw by Marseille at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger decided to leave captain Robin van Persie on the bench despite his hat-trick in the 5-3 win at Chelsea on Saturday - and his inspiration was sorely missed as Arsenal struggled to make any impact on Marseille's defence.

The French side had early opportunities through Jordan and Andre Ayew, while Theo Walcott saw his effort well saved by Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda.

Otherwise it was a tale of attrition as the game deteriorated into deadlock and Van Persie - on as a substitute just after the hour - wasted a late opportunity to be Arsenal's match-winner once more when he saw his shot gratefully clutched by Mandanda.

Arsenal lacked sharpness - Wenger

Marseille looked delighted with the draw at the final whistle, but the result did not cause huge damage to Arsenal's chances of progress as they stay on top of Group F.

Arsenal had opportunities in the opening exchanges despite keeping Van Persie in reserve - but it was Marseille who posed the early threat as they carried out coach Didier Deschamps' orders to attack.

Jordan Ayew was not far away with a backheel at the near post before his brother Andre was narrowly off target at the conclusion of a composed Marseille build-up.

Arsenal finally hit their stride when Gervinho played an inviting pass into the path of Walcott but Mandanda crucially got fingertips to his low shot to divert it inches wide.

Marseille were not short of ambition when in possession and Loic Remy then gave Arsenal an anxious moment with an effort that beat Wojciech Szczesny but drifted to safety.

Arsenal were able to exert a measure of authority as the half progressed, with Gervinho's shot being blocked by Mandanda and Aaron Ramsey just taking too long over an opportunity in the box to allow the Marseille defence to clear the danger.

Wenger finally decided on a change just after the hour and predictably it was Van Persie who was introduced for Ju-Young Park, who had struggled to make any impact.

As the game suffered a sharp decline in quality, Wenger swiftly shuffled his side again, sending on Tomas Rosicky for Ramsey before replacing Gervinho with Andrey Arshavin.

Van Persie then had the opportunity to end the stalemate with 13 minutes left when he raced clear, but for once his touch let him down and he did not get enough height on his attempted chip to beat the advancing Mandanda.

It was Arsenal's final chance, leaving the Gunners to wait to seal qualification for the knockout phase.

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