Drawn in the ‘group of death’ with OM, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund, the Gunners needed to get off to a good start, and goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey saw them do exactly that.
After a frenetic opening to the match, both sides settled down and began to find a rhythm. Marseille generally dominated the ball, but Arsenal always looked dangerous with their pace and creativity up front.
Midway through the first half Ghana’s Andre Ayew very nearly broke the deadlock, sending a header wide of the target after being left unmarked from a corner kick.
OM created a lot of pressure in and around the Gunners’ penalty area in the first half, but they were unable to create any clear chances from which to test goalkeeper Wojcieh Szczesny.
The French side started the second half strongly and should have opened the scoring through Rod Fanni, but the right-back missed the target after great set-up play from Alaixys Romao and Mathieu Valbuena.
On 54 minutes Kieran Gibbs exchanged passes with Olivier Giroud to be given the best chance Arsenal had created up to then, but he was denied by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. The OM shot-stopper denied Aaron Ramsey just four minutes later.
However, in the 65th minute, and against the run of play, the English side broke the deadlock. A spell of great pressure from the hosts came to an abrupt end when Gibbs provided a cross from the left and Theo Walcott powered home the opening goal.
Marseille pushed hard for an equaliser, with the lively Valbuena often looking their likeliest goal scorer, but instead they were hit by a sucker-punch from the Gunners. Ramsey made it 2-0 in the 84th minute, creating space for himself on the edge of the box before firing home a well-struck shot.
Marseille were able to pull a goal back in injury time through Jordan Ayew, who finished off a penalty after Ramsey had fouled the younger Ghanaian brother in the box, but it was nothing more than a consolation.