“If we qualify then maybe we can be contenders [for the Champions League],” said Arsene Wenger. “But it’s not too bad that they don’t talk about us and what is important, at this stage, is that we go through.
“In recent years we have not been spoiled by the draw [in the knockout round]. If you look at our opponents, we didn’t play Mickey Mouse teams. We played only Barcelona, Bayern Munich and, one year, Milan.
“We were guilty against Milan because we missed the first place but all the other draws we had were very difficult.
“This year the draw can be as bad if you finish first as second. But you always feel guilty when you finish second and have a bad draw. At least if you do the job well, you qualify and finish first, you can say ‘we have done our job like we wanted to do it’. But first let’s go step by step. Let’s qualify and, if we can, of course finish top of the group.”
|Arsenal: Diaby (knee), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Podolski (hamstring), Sanogo (back), Ryo (hamstring)Marseille: Andre Ayew (knee), Fanni (adductor)|
Matchday five may well be the pivotal night in Champions League Group F. Arsenal have been top throughout and could seal qualification along with Napoli if they perform better against rock-bottom Marseille at Emirates Stadium than Dortmund, who play the Italians in Germany.
However a couple of home wins would leave everything to play for in the final round of fixtures - including the possibility of a team failing to qualify with 12 points.
On paper, Arsenal - top of the Premier League table with back-to-back home wins over high-class domestic opposition - should have little to fear on Tuesday. Marseille may have come out of pot two in the draw but they have lost all four group games.
However coach Elie Baup is unwilling to accept his side will draw a complete blank and knows they must win this game to have any chance of Europa League qualification. Remember a pair of away wins on Tuesday would put that possibility in their hands.
However their form is, at best, patchy.
Marseille lost all five games they played in October - including Champions League ties against Napoli and Dortmund. They have recovered to an extent this month and a heartening 3-1 win over Ajaccio at the weekend lifted them to fourth in the table. The victory saw Florian Thauvin hit his seventh goal in his last seven games for club and country. However they will be without his fellow striker Andre Ayew, who twisted his knee on international duty last week.
“Marseille have nothing to lose and that always makes French teams dangerous,” said Wenger. “They have quality and they are in a better period at the moment because they won their last two games.
"This year the draw can be as bad if you finish first as second. But you always feel guilty when you finish second and have a bad draw"
“It’s bizarre because we’ve got nine points and they’ve got none but it’s difficult because this is the decisive stage of the competition, matchdays five and six, and you feel it’ll be tough.
“It was always a 'must-win game'. But we won twice 2-0 [against Liverpool and Southampton] so overall that is of course very positive. We just want to keep going now.”
Mathieu Flamini is back from suspension to play against his former club as Arsenal look to complete their 14th successive progression from the first group stage.
“We know what is at stake and we want to qualify,” said Wenger. “We know that this is a very big game in that final stage of the qualifiers.
"We have an opportunity to do it at home - 12 points might not be enough, it's true, but it might also be enough and it might be enough on Tuesday - so let's get the 12 points.”
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