By Joe Brewin
Arsène Wenger says Marseille is a footballing city right to its core.
Wenger takes his Arsenal side to the Stade Veledrome for Wednesday night’s crucial Champions League Group F clash as the Gunners look to continue their bright start in Europe.
The Frenchman is well aware of the infatuation for football in Marseille having spent six years as a manager in his home nation - and he admits there are few places like it.
“I have memories of some big battles there because with Monaco we did always fight with Marseille for the championship,” said Wenger.
“There was massive passion around the games. It is a football city in France and L’OM is part of the French culture in Marseille - the life of every family is linked with this club. Maybe more than anywhere else.
“But I am convinced we will not find a better atmosphere than Dortmund,” he added. “Dortmund is one of the hottest places in Europe with 80,000 people in a positive atmosphere.
“Marseille are rebuilding their stadium for the Euros [in 2016] so tomorrow you will have less of an impression of their complete atmosphere. I think one stand is completely empty at the moment so it will be a strange feeling.”
Both sides head into the match in strong European form, with Marseille currently topping Group F after a 100 per cent start.
Arsenal will be buoyed by their battling performance in Dortmund on Matchday One and Wenger believes taking that form to France could prove integral to the group’s outcome.
“A positive result will put us in a strong position to qualify because you could see until now there are three contenders - Marseille, Dortmund and Arsenal,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how strong Marseille are tomorrow because after that we play them at home. For us to get at least four points from these two games will put us in an extremely strong position.
“We are a bit less under pressure than we are in the Premier League where of course we are absolutely in need of winning the games. So we play a little bit with more pressure.
“This is a game with pressure because these two games will basically decide our Champions League future.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Oct 2011