Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture our MatchDay Show team - and an Arsenal blogger - will have their say on the match.

Arsenal take on Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck, Adrian Clarke and James McNicholas from Gunnerblog.

Read on for their post-match thoughts and recap what they said before kick-off.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

It was by no means a pretty fixture but that matters little to Arsène Wenger and his side. It's three points that will most likely see Arsenal end up topping the group, provided there are no major slip-ups between now and early December. The back four was particularly excellent with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker enjoying excellent games at the heart of the defence, together with an assured performance from Carl Jenkinson at right-back. A good evening for Arsenal, no matter how they got the job done.

Like Arsenal, Marseille have had a frustrating start to their domestic campaign but they've done well in Europe. Their 3-0 win over Dortmund last time out was flattering in the extreme - Marseille's goal led a charmed life - but there's no doubt that the French side are a tricky proposition on home soil. I like the look of Lucho Gonzalez while Andre Ayew will give any full back problems. But I fancy Arsenal to leave France with a point. They are getting players back from injury and seem fresher as well as more cohesive now the new signings have settled in. Robin van Persie is in great nick and I'd take him to score at anytime in the match if I was a betting man - which I am!

Adrian Clarke

As a spectacle I thought it was a poor quality Champions League encounter but it’s a magnificent three points for Arsenal to celebrate. The French side never got going and as the match wore on it was clear that Arsenal were the only side attempting to win the game. Aaron Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for his finish. The pressure on him was immense but his first touch and shot were nothing short of perfect. It was all very scrappy, certainly not vintage Arsenal but the performance doesn’t matter greatly. The Gunners are in charge of the group and I fully expect them to go on and qualify now in top spot.

Despite taking maximum points so far I expect Marseille to adopt a cautious approach to this match. Unless they have to come at Arsenal they will sit back and try and hit Arsenal on the counter-attack just as they did in sensational fashion when beating Borussia Dortmund at home on Matchday Two. Their front four of Valbuena, Lucho, Ayew and Remy is dangerous but I do think the French side are vulnerable at the back. I know they haven’t conceded yet in the competition but if Arsenal’s forwards are on form Marseille won’t be able to handle them. Arsenal’s recent away record in the Champions League is a worry and it won’t be easy getting back to winning ways at the Stade Velodrome but I do believe they will return to north London with at least a point.


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There's no sweeter way to win a football match than with a last-gasp winner. Aaron Ramsey's goal puts us in the group's driving seat, and well on the way to qualification. It was a well-taken strike and a rare moment of class in a match in which neither side performed to the extent of their capabilities. The boos of the Marseille fans at the full-time whistle told their own story. The French side will be disappointed to have barely tested Wojciech Szczesny, though plenty of credit must go to Arsenal's backline. I thought Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker were outstanding in helping Arsenal to a first European clean sheet on the road since Milan in 2008 - a full 17 games.  Ahead of them, Alex Song and Mikel Arteta did well to break up the play and prevent the likes of Lucho and Valbuena influencing the game in any meaningful way. All Arsenal needed was to find that one golden chance. After Mandanda saved well from Van Persie, it looked as if we were destined for a draw, but Ramsey thought otherwise. After the pain of Dortmund, this late goal was very welcome indeed.

The cauldron of the Velodrome promises to be an intimidating experience for this Arsenal team. Both sides have had a less-than-ideal start to the season, and both will be conscious of the boost to morale three Champions League points could provide. The fiercest battle will be fought in midfield, with reported former Arsenal target Lucho Gonzalez squaring off against the man we eventually signed, Mikel Arteta. The ball-winning skills of Alex Song will be vital in controlling this area of the park. Marseille have plenty of pace up front in the likes of Loic Remy and Andre Ayew, so an unfamiliar backline including both Andre Santos and Carl Jenkinson will have to perform diligently to keep the French side at bay. Arsenal have not lost in their seven previous visits to France and Arsène Wenger would hate to lose that record at the home of his old enemy. I anticipate a competitive score draw.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.

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20 Oct 2011