The Gunners’ solid display in Against the Ligue 1 side kicked-off their Champions League campaign in style and their record breaking signing helped Arsene Wenger’s side to keep a record-breaking run of 10 away games without defeat in the competition alive.
However, not everyone was as elated as Arsenal fans after Wednesday night’s grueling clash – it wasn’t the prettiest of games and Marseille, especially in the first half, had dominated the play in possession and chances.
However, the deadlock was broken after the break, when Theo Walcott’s 65th minute opener was volleyed into the back of the net before Aaron Ramsey made it 2-0 and game (almost) over with less than 10 minutes to go the final whistle.
The home side were gifted a dubious penalty by the referee but it proved to be no more than a consolation for the Frenchman who were well and truly beaten on the night.
“Good start with a nice pass for Walcott but a lack of power after that and pretty rubbish," stated French news publication L’Equipe journalist Jean-Michel Rouet following Marseille’s defeat of Arsenal £42.5 million signing to whom he gave a rating of four out of ten.
In fairness to the reporter, Ozil had what you might call a ‘quiet’ game but give the guy a break, he’s only just arrived from Madrid and hadn’t played 90 minutes with Arsenal yet.
Perhaps Rouet’s assessment of the German playmaker was reactionary to the fact that a French team had lost despite their 55 per cent of possession over 90 minutes and their 15 shots on goal to the Gunners’ 9.
Arsenal won the clash because they were more clinical than the hosts who, out of those 15 shots, recorded just 7 on target and not one of them was enough to beat Wojceich Szczesny from open play.
Arsenal, in contrast, had 7 on target out of their 9 shots – 78 per cent accuracy to the French side’s 40 per cent accuracy in front of goal. Perhaps Rouet was in le toilette when Ozil contributed to that percentage via his corner delivery, free kick delivery or when he was fouled by Marseille to earn free kicks for Arsenal.
His play in midfield and on the flanks is deceptive because he was, on the night, typically concerned with ball retention against side that were themselves very confortable in possession and dominated the middle of the park for large portions of the game.
To give any player of the winning team in a Champions League clash like that a four out of ten is a bit derisory – all eleven players on the pitch did their jobs and each contributed at the very least an ‘average’ performance to the overall result. Collectively Arsenal were intelligent and composed and, crucially, took their chances which Marseille did not (other than the late penalty).
Was Mesut Ozil the best player on the pitch? Not by any means but was any Arsenal player the worst? No, by the time Ramsey scored, the Gunners were completely in control of the game after a testing hour to start with. Moreover, Ozil was not as good as we know he capable of being but, as I said, give the guy a chance.
Jean-Michel Rouet should be au fait with Mesut Ozil who does indeed possess that je ne c'est quoi to demolish the opposition, and I think it would be more a propos for Monsieur Rouet to give him the time to settle in before he makes his assessment. All in good time, mon ami, all in good time.
image: © wonker