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Sep 17, 2013

Marseille optimistic of Arsenal scalp

Arsenal train ahead of their first Champions League Group F opening fixture against Marseille and will hope Aaron Ramsay and Mesut Ozil can continue their good starts to the season

Marseille coach Elie Baup was in bullish mood 24 hours ahead of his team's Champions League bow against Arsenal while Arsene Wenger praised the French club's astute transfer strategy.

• Mangan: Giroud's improvement food for thought

The Gunners have made a solid start to the Premier League campaign and have never lost in the European club football's premier competition in France.

Aaron Ramsey's 92nd-minute goal earned Arsene Wenger's side a 1-0 win at the Stade Velodrome when the teams met in the group stage two seasons ago, but having seen his own side get into the Ligue 1 season on the front foot, Baup believes OM can head into the game with optimism.

He said: "We want to try and create a surprise, that's clear. We're not naive and we know that this team is as good if not even better than in previous years. But we have to contain them by playing our game."

OM managed to do that two years ago in North London, claiming a point with a goalless draw in the English capital which contributed to them joining the Gunners in the knockout stages.

Then under the stewardship of Didier Deschamps, the 1992-93 European champions fell in the quarter-finals to eventual runners-up Bayern Munich having dramatically pipped Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.

Though they are also again paired with the German club -- last season's finalists -- as well as a testing Napoli side in Group F, captain Steve Mandanda insisted the squad were not overawed by the daunting prospect ahead of them.

He said: "Why should we be afraid? We're going into this competition with a lot of ambition. A lot of us already experienced games against Arsenal and Dortmund two seasons ago. We're looking forward to it. I missed the Champions League last season."

Though Arsenal have an enviable record in France, OM have defeated Chelsea and drawn with Manchester United on home soil in recent seasons.

Deprived of the financial muscle of Ligue 1 rivals Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, OM have had to be cannier in the transfer market, bringing in domestic talents such as Dimitri Payet, Florian Thauvin and Giannelli Imbula to bolster the squad that finished runners-up to PSG last term.

"The club finds itself in the same position in the financial hierarchy as myself in recent years," said Wenger, who should have France striker Olivier Giroud and German pair Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil available. "They can't take the same players as PSG and Monaco. So they gamble on the future.

"It's an intelligent strategy which will bear fruit, but you have to bear in mind that a player of 20 is still learning his trade."

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