The Arsenal machine rolls on. This was not a vintage performance and there were plenty of moments when Marseille threatened to make life uncomfortable for their opponents but all that matters to Arsène Wenger and his players is that they left the south of France with a sixth successive victory and a remarkable 10th in succession away from home.

In a stadium that resembles a building site Arsenal laid some solid foundations to put themselves in a strong position before back-to-back home games against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund. Goals from Theo Walcott and the in-form Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal a stranglehold on the game before Jordan Ayew converted a controversial penalty with almost the last kick of the game.

Marseille will reflect on how different the outcome might have been had they showed the same ruthlessness as Arsenal and whether the match would have stayed within their grasp if Jérémy Model had not made a dreadful error midway through the second half. The left-back stooped to head a Kieran Gibbs cross that bounced awkwardly in front of him when it would have been easier to put his foot through the ball. Walcott, volleying into the top corner, registered his first goal of the season with aplomb.

Ramsey has found goals much easier to come by in an extraordinary start to the season. The low shot he drilled beyond Steve Mandanda six minutes from time was his sixth in seven games for Arsenal. To put that record into context, it is more than he managed across 91 appearances in the previous two campaigns.

The only frustration for Ramsey was that he was harshly penalised for fouling André Ayew in the closing seconds, when the Portuguese referee pointed to the spot. The Welshman clearly made contact with the ball and Wenger was unable to conceal his frustration on the touchline.

Ultimately, though, this was a satisfactory night for the Arsenal manager.

His side collected three valuable points and, crucially, came through the match without picking up any further injuries on a night when two teenagers, Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden, were on the bench. Disappointing in the first half, when they were wasteful and threatened only sporadically, the visitors improved sufficiently after the break to punish a Marseille side that played with courage and intensity but lacked a cutting edge.

Gibbs was the pick of the Arsenal players on an evening when Mesut Özil was on the periphery of the game for long periods. There was one neat backheel in the second half that released Gibbs, whose left-footed shot was well saved by Mandanda, and a shot that flashed beyond the far post late on but otherwise the German was quiet. At times in the first half he seemed to be competing for the same pocket of space as Jack Wilshere, who often drifted infield from his position wide on the left.

The first of several decent opportunities that Marseille squandered arrived in the 21st minute, when André Ayew's free header drifted wide. André-Pierre Gignac had a harder chance with a twisting near-post header that flashed over the crossbar. Although Arsenal improved in the second half, they could easily have fallen behind in the 47th minute when Rod Fanni's angled volley whistled past a post.

The game became stretched as chances came and went at both ends. Dimitri Payet drew a low save by Wojciech Szczesny and Per Mertesacker came close to putting through his own net with a horrible slice that Gibbs, covering brilliantly, was able to head into the Arsenal goalkeeper's hands.

Moments earlier Gibbs was involved in that lovely exchange with Özil that came close to yielding a breakthrough. Arsenal were playing with more belief and Wilshere, in oceans of space after being picked out by Bacary Sagna's deep cross, ought to have done better with a far-post volley that lacked conviction and was turned round a post by Mandanda.

Finally, though, Arsenal seized the advantage, when Walcott punished Morel's awful header with an emphatic shot that was out of keeping with an otherwise frustrating display from the England international.

Mathieu Valbuena, who provided some lovely touches throughout as well as a couple of superb crossfield passes, had a couple of half-chances to haul Marseille level before Ramsey put clear distance between the two sides.

Although still deployed as a deep-lying midfielder, Ramsey has developed a happy knack of breaking forward at the right time, as he did here to rifle the ball past Mandanda. It was a cruel blow for a Marseille side that had been roared on by their fans in a three-sided ground that will be a wonderful stadium when the work is finished.

At least their supporters finally had something to celebrate when theJordan Ayew beat Szczesny from the spot in injury time. This, though, was Arsenal's night.