Arsenal win but last 16 spot still not certain

Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:21pm EST
 
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Jack Wilshere scored twice, the first after 30 seconds, as Group F leaders Arsenal beat Olympique Marseille 2-0 on Tuesday but have yet to secure a Champions League last 16 place.

Arsenal, with four wins in five matches, head the group with 12 points followed by Borussia Dortmund, whose 3-1 win over Napoli leaves both sides on nine. Marseille have none after five straight defeats.

Arsenal's last match on Dec 11 is away to Napoli while Dortmund visit Marseille meaning Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli could all finish with 12 points in which case results between the three would decide who advances to the last 16.

As long as Arsenal do not lose by three goals or more they will qualify for the knockout rounds for the 14th successive season, but it means Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will have to take a strong team to Napoli next month.

"It is unbelievable, but it's reality and we have to finish the job. It's a tricky situation. You could think, 'we must not lose big' but I think that would be a mistake," Wenger told reporters afterwards.

"We have to go there and try and win the game because otherwise it is a huge gamble.

"I have never known anything like it in my 150 Champions League matches."

Arsenal were vastly superior to a Marseille team already out of contention with coach Elie Baup fielding a number of younger inexperienced players while resting his senior men for their French League exploits.   Continued...

 
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (R) celebrates with team mate Mesut Ozil after scoring a goal against Olympique Marseille during their Champions League soccer match at the Emirates stadium in London November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh