Marseille: Didier Deschamps says Marseille will play without fear against Arsenal on Wednesday, as they re-immerse themselves in a Champions League campaign that has proved a respite from domestic setbacks.
Marseille are well off the pace in 15th place in Ligue 1, having registered just one win in their first 10 games, but in Europe it is a different story.
Consecutive victories at Olympiakos (1-0) and at home to German champions Borussia Dortmund (3-0) mean OM will enter Wednesday's game -- the first of a double-header -- with a two-point lead over second-placed Arsenal in Group F.
Deschamps says his side will approach the match "aiming to win" and hopes that the hosts will flourish in the absence of the oppressive atmosphere that has weighed upon their recent league outings.
"Our bad start in the championship means we have our backs to the wall in every match, particularly at home," said the Marseille coach at Tuesday's pre-match press conference.
"But in the Champions League it's different. We have six points already, so there isn't the same pressure and the players can go for it a bit more and play without the same nervousness."
Arsenal have endured a similarly uncomfortable start to their domestic season, having registered only three wins in eight games to leave them 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City in 10th place.
However, they are aiming to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League for the 12th season running and Deschamps does not think that they have been fundamentally weakened by the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
"They're still a top European club and they qualify systematically for the Champions League," he said.
"They had a troubled summer, losing big players and bringing new ones in. I don't want to compare Arsenal today to their previous teams, but they still have 20 or so internationals.
"Their squad is full of quality. They've had problems in the Premier League but they're still a top team and they've played in this competition every season for a good while now."
Despite lauding their strengths in attack, Deschamps highlighted the fact that Arsenal "let a lot of goals in too".
Only Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers have conceded more goals than the 17 shipped by Arsenal in the English top flight this season and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda says the defence could be the weak link in Arsene Wenger's team.
"We haven't properly talked about the team with the coach yet but we know they've let in a lot of goals and that may be something we'll be able to exploit," said the France international.
Mandanda, however, believes Marseille must be wary of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, whose match-winning brace in Sunday's 2-1 defeat of Sunderland took his tally for 2011 to 23 goals in 25 league games.
"Arsenal have lots of dangerous players but the guy in form at the moment is van Persie," he said.
"He always makes a difference and he scores a lot of goals, so we'll have to watch him closely."