Ahead of Arsenal’s first Champions League game in the group stages for this year’s tournament, Arsenal head to Marseille in France, where they will come up against arguably the easiest opposition of the group, even though they were in the second seeded pot for the draw.
Labelled as this years ‘Group of Death’, Arsenal are in a group with Napoli, Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. All teams are very good and if this year’s form alone stands then all are very capable of winning their respective leagues. In fact, until Liverpool jammed a point at Swansea last night, Marseille were the only one of the four not to be top of the league. It certainly is going to be a tough challenge for the Gunners however I am still expecting us to get through to the knockout stage, along with Dortmund.
Some think that Marseille is the easiest game we will have and, although I don’t disagree with this statement, I still think the game will be tough for Arsenal and it’s vital that we have all our key players on top form for the game. The only issue is that there’s a slight chance that we may be adding yet another two players to the injury list, along with the other ten or so first teamers that are unavailable for the trip to France. Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil have been labelled as doubts for the game, whilst Per Mertesacker returns after missing the game this weekend vs. Sunderland.
Wenger released the news on Arsenal.com that Arsenal do in fact have some injury problems:
“We have a few problems. Some with Ozil but the main one is Giroud, who has a knee problem. He will have a test tomorrow and hopefully he will be fit. But it will only be decided tomorrow.
“I have not really thought about it that much but the obvious solution is Walcott. We’ll see. There is good news. Mertesacker will be available again after illness. Ozil was ill and has some tight muscles after Saturday. But I think he will be OK. We are optimistic.”
It’s good to know that Mertesacker is back, whilst it seems that Ozil may just pull through. The main concern is of course Giroud, who has been Arsenal’s best player alongside Aaron Ramsey so far this season. The French striker is in fine form and we really can’t afford for him to be injured, but unfortunately that seems to be the case. The really annoying thing is, is that Giroud has only recently stated he would be okay to play.
Giroud told the Daily Mail: “It is not bad actually, not as bad as I first feared. I got a kick earlier in the game but no-one was near me when I did it this time. I tried to connect with the ball a little bit too early and I caught my foot in the grass. I twisted my ankle but fortunately, it is nothing major. I am OK, sure I will be fine [for Marseille].”
Reading that there seems to be a little bit of concern but hopefully he will be okay to play Marseille and if not at least ready to play against Stoke this weekend. Overall its largely positive news on the Arsenal front once again, come on you Gunners!