Van Persie gamble backfires as Gunners fire blanks

ARSENAL (0) vs MARSEILLE (0)

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger admitted the emotional effects of Saturday’s win over Chelsea played a part in his side’s failure to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League following last night’s stalemate against Marseille.

Wenger opted to rest captain and top scorer Robin van Persie and the move backfired as Arsenal struggled, particularly in the second-half, to carve out clear goalscoring opportunities.

The Dutchman was introduced from the bench with half-an-hour remaining, but even he couldn’t find a way past visiting goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

On his decision to rest a man who had scored 28 goals in his previous 27 games, Wenger said: “He was tired, this was fatigue, that’s why I did that. You know we are playing 50 games in a year, he cannot play 50.

“Emotionally more than physically maybe [Saturday had an impact]. It is difficult to be on a high three days later again but we still had opportunities.

“Aaron Ramsey in the first half, he had two great chances. Gervinho had a chance, and in a game like that you still expect to be able to take one of these chances.

I felt it was a game where we were not physically at our sharpest. Marseille started stronger than us and after that we got back in the game.”

Despite a failure to win at home in Europe for the first time since Barcelona visited Emirates Stadium back in Mach 2010, Arsenal remain top of their section with Borussia Dortmund up next at home.

Wenger added: “We wanted to achieve qualification after this game but you have to say as well to be fair that we have taken four points against Marseille in our two games. If we win our next home game we have a good chance.”