After all the struggles of last season, Arsenal are back where they feel they belong – and last night began their sixteenth consecutive Champions League campaign.
That in itself is something of a huge achievement, but Arsene Wenger is experienced enough to know it will get no recognition whatsoever if the Gunners fail to get themselves out of Group F – this seasons ‘group of death’.
The Gunners have been placed alongside last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund, Rafael Benitez’s entertaining Napoli side, and familiar French foes Marseille.
Wenger himself has been cautious when talking up his team’s chances of making it to the last sixteen, with the Frenchman well aware of the great dangers each opponent poses.
Last night’s fixture was arguably the best place to start. Arsenal have gained great experience in travelling to France and picking up results in the past few seasons, and away from the pressures of playing at home, Wenger was able to set up a team capable of soaking up the early pressure, and hitting Marseille where it hurt in the second half.
Their 2-1 victory at the Stade Velodrome will hardly be seen as a result that sends a warning out across Europe, but the Gunners have every right to be very pleased with a highly professional performance that yielded three points in their opening fixture.
Here, we have identified five things we may have learnt from Arsenal’s 2-1 victory in Marseille last night.