Deschamps out to stifle Arsenal
Marseille will make it their priority to stifle the Arsenal midfield, believing that holds the key to beating the Gunners. But Deschamps accepts his own midfield players have not been performing to their usual high standard this season, with the effect that they, like Arsenal in the Premier League, have struggled for positive results in domestic football. Last term they were runners-up to Lille; this season they have won just once in 10 Ligue 1 games, drawing six times, and Deschamps has seen deficiencies in his old position. "What is certain is that we haven't been winning our matches because of this department," Deschamps said. "On Wednesday it will be very important, especially because Arsenal have great technique. "We will have to keep them off the ball. Their strength lies in pushing forward, led by the midfield player." Deschamps is not fooled by Arsenal's slow start in the Premier League. They sold Cesc Fabregas and former Marseille man Samir Nasri in the summer, but Deschamps looks at the players available to Arsene Wenger and notes their quality. "They are a team who have lost key players but they remain competitive," Deschamps said. "They have attacking players who can pose a problem to any team. "We have an advantage over them and it is simple: the two points more than them that we have gleaned. "After Wednesday evening we will see things more clearly. If we win, we won't be through but we will have made a great step forward. "The main objective is to get out of the group. After that it is to consolidate our first place." Marseille have beaten Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund without conceding a goal, while Arsenal have taken four points from games against the same opponents. After Wednesday's match the group stage will be at its midway stage, and Marseille are keen to stay at the top of Group F. Lose Wednesday, and they will be overtaken by Arsenal, and a defeat could see Deschamps and his players come in for more criticism from supporters puzzled by their distinctly mixed form this season. Attendances have dropped off, to the extent only 26,000 attended the match against Dortmund, when those who turned out were rewarded with a 3-0 victory. "We are certainly responsible," Deschamps said. "The bad results are an explanation, the standard of our play too. But you mustn't forget the economic climate. This year, fewer Lyon fans than ever have gone to Madrid (for tonight's match), for example."