Arsenal to boss Champions League tie against pointless Marseille
Premier League leaders Arsenal can all but book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League by beating Group F strugglers Marseille at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger’s side bounced back after their pre-international break loss at Manchester United to win 2-0 last time out at home to Southampton and possess enough quality to down Elie Baup’s charges with something to spare.
Arsenal to win to nil @ 17/20
Southampton keeper Artur Boruc’s hapless decision making may have been the main reason Arsenal cruised to victory at home to the Saints, but Arsene Wenger’s side aren’t four points clear at the top of the Premier League by accident.
The Gunners have won all five of their top-flight home matches since going down to a 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.
While it is true that Wenger’s side have lost cup matches at the Emirates against Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund this term, two of their last three games in north London have been won to nil, which has been the outcome in half of their home clashes during this campaign.
A last-minute Jordan Ayew penalty robbed Wojciech Szczesny of a clean sheet in Marseille, but back on their own turf Arsenal can fend off the fourth-best attack in Ligue 1 and win with ease.
Aaron Ramsey to score the first goal @ 5/1
After scoring eight times in Arsenal’s first nine games of the season, the rejuvenated Welsh midfielder’s goals have inevitably dried up somewhat in the last few weeks, but his record in Europe so far this term has been consistently excellent.
Ramsey headed home the only goal of the game against Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion last time out in the Champions League, set up Mesut Ozil for the Germany international to score at home to Napoli and grabbed the vital second in Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Marseille at the Stade Velodrome.
Add in the three he fired past Fenerbahce over two legs in the last qualifying round and Ramsey is the joint-fourth highest scorer in Europe’s elite competition this season, with only Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi netting more times than the Caerphilly native.
With that in mind, the 5/1 about Ramsey opening the scoring at the Emirates seems somewhat overpriced and should be punted on accordingly.
Theo Walcott to score at any time @ 6/5
The last game Walcott started was at Marseille and the 24-year-old rattled home a fine volley to give Arsenal the lead on that occasion.
The England winger came off 12 minutes before the end of the match and was not seen on a football pitch again until last week, coming on for Santi Cazorla for the last 20 minutes against his old club Southampton.
Walcott looks set to start against L’OM after recovering from surgery for an abdominal problem and he will be keen to show that he can be a viable option for England at the 2014 World Cup, as both a provider on the right-wing and as a scorer in his preferred position through the centre.