Jack Wilshere scored either side of half-time to ensure Arsenal took three points against Marseille
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Well that was dull, but Arsenal, as expected, recorded a routine victory against a sub-standard Marseille. Wilshere netted two good goals, Mandanda made a decent save from a slovenly Ozil penalty and now Arsenal only need to draw in Napoli to avoid all head-scratching and make sure of their progress.
90 min: Sagna plays Walcott through ... and the would-be striker pokes softly wide from 20 yards.
87 min: Super cross by Walcott, followed by a wild shot by Cazorla, who got all over-excited and blemmed it high and wide from 12 yards.
85 min: OM are finishing with gusto, finally making Arsenal work. Sagna makes an important intervention to end two mintues of OM probing and put Arsenal back on to the front foot.
82 min: Apparently Joey Barton isn't impressed with the atmosphere at the Emirates tonight. Well sing up then, Joseph!
80 min: Substitutions: Ozil off, Arteta on. Lemina off, Cheyrou on. "How many directions will we go regarding Joey Barton's cameo in the stands?" wonders Mike Wilner. "Well, I'd like to start with his Twitter handle: @Joey7Barton. Is he trying to equate himself with, say, CR7? Keep plugging away, lad..." Then he should have gone with JB7. Or, even better, JB007. Licence to, if not quite kill, then at least tackle hard.
77 min: OM have discovered their pride and, with Valbuena and Thauvin, they now have real quality too. Szczesny has just had to produce an excellent save to thwart Thauvin again, diving full-length to his left to keep out the youngster's rasping low half-volley.
Arsenal substitutions: Wilshere and Rosicky off; Walcott and Cazorla on.
74 min: Good save by Szczesny to deny Thauvin.
72 min: Look who's among the OM fans at the Emirates ...
71 min: A marseille attack! An actual Marseille attack! They moved forward with speed and numbers (yes, really!) before Morel flighted a fair cross in from the left and Gignac rose to nod it over from 10 yards.
68 min: Ramsey has hurt his ribs in a challenge from Valbuena. It doesn't look serious but there's no sense keeping him on. I can't see the sidelines but I imagine Cazorla or Arteta has been sent to warm up. Might as well tell Bendtner to go for a jog too, just for the hell of it.
Nice move, nice finish, game over. Ramsey bisected the defence expertly and Ozil then rolled an inviting pass to Wilshere, who slammed into the net from 14 yards.
63 min: Decent cross by Monreal, which prompts Giroud to attempt some kind of circus seal routine: the Frenchman tries to balance the ball on the tip of his nose and then flip it up and let it roll down his back. All very impressive, but Mandanda saunters out to pick the ball up when it drops to the grass.
62 min: Thauvin makes an impressive introduction, skipping past two players ... before losing out to Koscielny. Still, the hint of a threat from OM makes this more interesting ...
60 min: Arsenal beginning to find a bit of urgency; but OM are raising their game slightly too, and Morel makes a diligent block on Rosicky.
OM changes: This should pep up the visitors: Valbuena and Thauvin on; J Ayew and Imbula off.
57 min: Ozil plays Wilshere in with a beautiful pass but Mandanda makes a fine save to stop the midfielder from bagging a brace. And thealbuena and Thauvin on; J Ayew and Imbula off.
55 min: A snapshot from Giroud from the edge of the area takes a deflection and misses the post by inches.
54 min: That's better from Sagna, who gives a nice return pass to Ramsey. But Morel, who has generally had a stinker tonight, showed admirable determination to get back and dispossess the Welshman.
52 min: Groans from the Arsenal fans! That's what the familiar sight of Sagna shanking a cross into the stands will do.
51 min: Chants from the Arsenal fans!
49 min: Rosicky, who has sparkled more than anyone tonight, spins and probes and then lays the ball off to Ramsey, who produces another of his dinky scoop passes to put Giroud through on goal. But the ref whistles for offside, wrongly.
47 min: If any of you have ever stood in the rain at Dublin's Howth Junction train station on a frigid rainy night in January, you'll have some idea of how bleak this game is.
46 min: OM have mustered the energy to come back out for the second half. Arsenal trudge out, too. And off we go. Please give us some garnish for this gruel.
We can't dress this one up: it's been very boring. Arsenal scored early and ambled their way through the remainder of the half against a Marseille team that look like they're turned up merely to fulfil contractual obligations. Arsenal have been negligent in not scoring again - Ozil's soft penalty exemplifying their lack of oomph - and if OM somehow equalise the home side will have only themselves to blame.
43 min: Ramsey feeds Wilshere, who tries to replicate his first-minute goal but, this time, curls his shot high and wide.
42 min: As if miffed by their penalty miss, Arsenal have increased the intensity a tad. They're applying proper pressure now as opposed to just monopolising possession.
40 min: Ramsey takes the freekick instead ... and slams a low one straight into the wall.
39 min: Moreil, who has been all over the shop so far, is booked for bringing down Giroud just outside the area. Freekick to Arsenal. A chance for Ozil to atone?
38 min: Mandanda saves Ozil's lazy penalty! Such a lethargic shot from the German, who made it obivous where he was going to shoot and then dabbed it there. Mandanda plunged to his right to turn the ball away.
37 min: PENALTY to Arsenal, as Ramsey flips the ball over N'Koulou's head and then goes down as he chases after it. The contact was outside the box but the ref awards the penalty ...
33 min: Arsenal's passing has become ropey, OM's feebleness seemingly lending a debilitating drowsiness to the game. Quality and interest are declining. Hard to believe the stakes are so high. The onus is on Arsenal to raise the level and secure the win. It only takes one goof to let even a side as pitiful as this OM outfit back into the game.
31 min: Ozil curls a 40-yard freekick into the area. Mendes drags Giroud to the ground but none of the officials spot it and the ball bounces harmlessly over the bar.
29 min: Imbula tries to run the ball out of his own defensive area but is dispossessed by Wilshere, but the ball runs out of play. Are we there yet?
28 min: If Elie Baup can be bothered, he can spice this up by sending on Thauvin and Valbuena in the second half. So Arsenal could do with raising the tempo here and killing OM off while the visitors are still sleep-walking.
27 min: Koscielny strides out from the back and Arsenal slowly work the ball wide to Rosciky on the lefte. The Czech injects a bit of pace into proceedings by darting forward ... and sending a piddling shot 15 yards wide. Are we there yet?
26 min: Are we there yet?
25 min: Are we there yet?
24 min: Rosicky interrupts the tedium by aiming a lovely curled pass towards Wilshere, but OM scramble to clear the danger.
21 min: Shoddiness in the back rearguard allows Gignac in but Szceszny surges off his line to poucne at the striker's feet and snaffle the ball.
20 min: The Marseille fans are signing. The Arsenal fans are sleeping. The Marseille players have nodded off again, too, and Arsenal almost capitalise, Wilshere crossing from the right but N'Koulou wakes up in time to nick the ball away from Giroud.
18 min: A dinky looped pass by Ramsey into the path of Ozil, who merely has to trap the ball and shoot from 15 yards ... but, for once, the German's control betrays him and the ball runs out of play.
17 min: Marseille summon a bit of gumption, inspired by a bold run by Imbula. Jordan Ayew eventually delivered a cross from the right and Gignac leapt well to meet it, but his header from 15 yards floated high over the bar.
15 min: Arsenal contineu to tap the ball about. They really should get at least a second goal before they completely knock off for the night because, unlikely though it looks, OM may rouse themselves from their meekness at some point.
12 min: As Arsenal put the kettle on, Dortmund take a 1-0 lead against Napoli in the group's other game. The prospect of all teams finishing level on points remains alive.
10 min: At this point we have to ask why Marseille bothered to turn up? Arsenal are not having to do anything special to be royally dominant. They're playing at a gentle pace but OM just can't get close to them or the ball. I know it's a makeshift team but for a Champions League match, this is pathetic.
7 min: Arsenal nearly double their lead thanks to a flowing move and more naive Marseille defending. Giroud slipped the ball into Wilshere, who surged behind the defence and sent a low cross to Ramsey, whose shot from 10 yards was blocked by Mandanda. Marseille defenders just didn't have a clue where any of the Arsenal players were. This could be a proper tonking.
5 min: After prolonged Arsenal probing, Ramsey shuffles at the edge of the area to create room for a shot but then miscues, sending a trickler way wide.
3 min: Arsenal are just stroking the ball around at their leisure now, with OM sitting deep and looking utterly overawed. Only complacency can prevent Arsenal easing their way to victory from here.
I may have to revise that 3-0 prediction upwards. That was ridiculously easy. Within seconds of kick-off Wilshere received the ball wide on the right, then ambled forward with no objection from the visitors until he got to the edge of the area, whereupon he sidestepped a defender and curled the ball into the far corner.
The teams are in the tunnel, Marseille clad all in turquoise in obvious tribute to David Icke, and Arsenal in the kit made famous by Rotherham United.
An ominous start to proceedings for the home side here: news has filtered through to the Emirates that AC Milan, who are playing Celtic, have become the third side in Champions League history to name a starting line-up not containing any numbers 1 to 11, thereby making Arsenal slightly less special, as Arsene Wenger's team were the last to do it (in December 2009, following a precedent set by Valencia in 2006, since you ask). We know Arsenal tend to be mentally brittle so the question facing Wenger at the moment is: should he break this news to his players now or wait until after the match? A pickle, to be sure.
In 1982 a Finnish songster called Kojo sang about the construction of a nuclear power station while smacking himself in the head. In 1978 a Norwegian named Jahn Teigen belted out a track called Mile after Mile while performing mid-air splits but had to abandon after snapping his braces. And in 2003 the Scouse brother-and-sister duo Jemini went to Latvia to make unspecified sounds while music was played in the background.
All of the above returned from European competition with nul points. Which is the fate that now faces Olympique de Marseille. Since OM are already eliminated from the Champions League and have no realistic chance of making the Europa League, the only possible barrier between Arsenal and three crucial points is the French team's determination to avoid Jemini-esque ignominy. It is a powerful incentive.
But most probably not powerful enough, particularly as OM's main priority is clambering back into the top three in Ligue 1, which is why they have not even fielded their best team tonight, resting, amongst others, the brilliant tricksters Mathieu Valbuena and Florian Thauvin. In come several promising youngsters, notably the midfielder Mario Lemina, who was signed from Lorient in the summer after helping France win the U-20 World Cup and makes his OM debut tonight. Gianelli Imbula is another one to watch - the 21-year-old midfielder has immense potential. But Arsenal should be far too strong and savvy for this side and a routine 3-0 victory definitely awaits. You can quote me on that afterwards. But if you plan to do that, you'd best print this page out now because I'll be deleting all trace of the prediction if I'm wrong. You can quote me on that. But if you plan to ... etc,. and so on.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Ramsey; Rosicky, Ozil, Wilshere; Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Arteta, Walcott, Cazorla, Bendtner, Gnabry
OM: Mandanda; Abdallah, N'Koulou. Mendes, Morel; Romao, Imbula, Lemina; J Ayew Gignac, Khalifa
Subs: Samba, Cheyrou, Thauvin, Diawara, Mendy, Fanni, Valbuena
Ref: A Mateu Lahoz (Spain)