Arsenal vs. Montpellier  2 - 0


Arsenal´s Giroud praises former club

22 November 2012 13:56

Olivier Giroud believes his former club Montpellier are a good side despite losing 2-0 to the Gunners in the Champions League.

Giroud laid on goals for team-mates Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski on Wednesday to ensure his team's passage to the group stages.

After claiming the performance of his former team belied their lowly position in the Ligue 1 standings, Giroud was pleased with how the attack operated.

"We were efficient offensively. They had a few chances but not so much as we defended very well. We tried again and again. We played between their lines and tried to create some problems," Giroud said.

"We had to be efficient in the second half and 'kill the game' in order to control the game. It wasn't an easy game especially in the first half.

"It's always a particular (to play against your former club) moment. I tried to give my best and stay focused unlike I did in the first game.

"It's very positive to win tonight but they showed that they are a good team and they don't deserve their position in the French league."

Giroud welcomed the return of former club legend Thierry Henry, with the striker likely to tak up a January loan move.

"It's always good to play with top French players like him (Henry). Apparently, during the international break he trained with the squad. People told me he was in good shape, in good form. It's a plus for us. So why not."

Meanwhile, Bacary Sagna has said Arsenal will do everything in their power to finish top of the group.

"We will try to finish first of the group but it will be tough. We don't have our fate in our hands. We know Schalke will try to finish first. It's up to us to do the job and take the three points against Olympiakos," he said.

To do so, Arsenal must better Schalke's result in the last round of the competition in a week's time.


Wenger eyes top spot

22 November 2012 01:44

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has his heart set on topping Champions League Group B after his side's 2-0 win over Montpellier on Wednesday.

A Jack Wilshere strike and a Lukas Podolski stunner handed Arsenal all three points at Emirates Stadium, helping them secure their place in the last 16 and keep pace with Schalke at the top of the group.

Arsenal visit Greek club Olympiacos in their final group game, sitting one point behind Schalke on the table, and Wenger wants his men to go all out for victory in Greece.

"We will play the last game to finish top of the group," Wenger said.

"When you look at some of the other groups you don't know if first or second is better, but statistically it is always better to finish first and that's what we want to do.

"Thirteen times in a row we have qualified for the last 16 – I'm very proud. It's not as easy as it appears, because if you look across Europe not many teams do it.

"Montpellier were well organised, strong in their challenges and aggressive, so we had to concentrate, not make mistakes and take our chances.

"I'm pleased to see Jack Wilshere getting stronger and stronger after such a long time out. He had a difficult start to the game, but you could see after the goal he got more confident."

Montpellier coach Rene Girard lamented the number of injuries to his squad, and was downcast as his side were denied a place in the Europa League by finishing bottom of the group.

"Perhaps it was one match too far for us this evening given the number of injuries and players we had missing," Girard said.

"We gave everything we could and I was very happy with our attitude, but if we can't score goals, then it does, of course, become more difficult.

"Over the 90 minutes we played well but lacked a bit of consistency.

"We were good in the first half in terms of aggression and forward runs, but we were just lacking something going forward.

"We particularly saw that in the second half and we began to physically struggle towards the end of the game."


Girard: Former ally Giroud a threat

21 November 2012 16:18

Montpellier manager Rene Girard said Olivier Giroud is Arsenal's main threat for their Champions League date on Wednesday.

Giroud helped Montpellier to their maiden Ligue 1 victory last term, scoring 21 league goals in 36 appearances for the French side prior to a move to north London.

After a slow start to his first season in London, the French striker has scored five goals in his last six appearances for club and country, and Girard believes Montpellier must stop Giroud if they want to win the tie.

"We know Olivier very well," said Girard ahead at a press conference ahead of the match.

"He is a goalscorer. He is someone who loves to score goals.

"Unfortunately for us, I think he's rediscovering his best form. He's starting to score goals. But we've also got some tactics which we can employ to try to stop him.”

Girard went on to express his admiration for the 26-year-old and insisted the striker will try his best to prove he is worthy of his position at one of Europe's biggest clubs.

"I think it was a very emotional game for him when he played at the Stade de la Mosson. It was a difficult game for him," he added.

"I think he's going to try and show he's not here by accident but we know how good he is. He's someone we really rate.

"Olivier has progressed a lot over the last two years. He worked very hard for us for two years and he came to Arsenal and we'd almost sculpted him into the player he is today.

"We're going to try really and stop them from playing. This is someone who made history at the club. We had great times with him."


Girard wary of Giroud influence

21 November 2012 00:07

Montpellier head coach Rene Girard fears an in-form Olivier Giroud could return to haunt his former side on Wednesday.

The Arsenal striker will come face-to-face with his former club at the Emirates in the sides' Group B clash on Wednesday.

Giroud has scored four goals in four games for the Gunners but Girard issued a warning to the striker and said Montpellier were well aware of how to stop him.

"Look, we know Olivier (Giroud) very well, he is a very good striker," Girard said.

"Unfortunately for us, I think he just made a great come back and is scoring goals, he is now at his best level, but we have the defenders who can stop him.

"I think for him the first game was very emotional, it was complicated to come back to Montpellier.

"But here he would like to show us he is not here by mistake. But we already know it because he is a great guy who we all like."

Montpellier have no chance of qualifying and are five points adrift of third place in the group and a Europa League berth, yet Girard insisted it is still an important match.

"It's an important game for us. It's a great game for us, a very crucial game," Girard said.

"As I said to the boys, the Champions League is over, but we still have a little hope with the Europa League.

"But the most important thing is to prepare for the following Ligue 1 fixtures.

"It will be hard so we need to fight back in the table. We'll play against Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon - many complicated games.

"We've made a good start against Paris and Valenciennes so against Arsenal we need to keep playing like that."


Injured Walcott out of Arsenal squad

20 November 2012 15:00

Theo Walcott will miss Arsenal's Champions League Group B clash against Montpellier on Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

The winger fell awkwardly following a challenge from Michael Dawson during Arsenal's 5-2 victory over Tottenham on Saturday but was able to complete the match after receiving treatment.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed the 23-year-old will be sidelined for the 'short term' and will subsequently sit out Arsenal's tie against the French champions at the Emirates, while Andre Santos will also miss out through injury.

Wenger also revealed Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho are fit enough to be included in Arsenal's squad after recovering from injury.

With four games played in the Champions League, Arsenal sit second in Group B on seven points and trail leaders Schalke by a single point.

Olympiakos are third having won two and lost two so far, while Montpellier are yet to register a victory but secured a draw against Schalke last month.

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry will train with Arsenal next month and could return for a third spell as a player at the club, can reveal.

The club's all-time leading goalscorer has been told by the club he can keep in shape at their London Colney training base during the MLS off-season.

Wenger wants to strengthen his squad with a striker in January and has made Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez his top target.

However, if Arsenal cannot clinch a deal for the Spain international, they are considering turning once again to Henry, who has just completed his third season at New York Red Bulls.

The Londoners will lose Gervinho on Africa Cup of Nations duty in January for up to six weeks and doubt surrounds the future of Walcott, even though progress has been made in his contract negotiations with the club.

The Frenchman, who turned 35 in August, had a fairytale seven-match return to Emirates Stadium at the start of the year, extending his Arsenal scoring record to 228 goals.

The striker returned to London last week after New York Red Bulls were beaten in the MLS play-offs to end their domestic campaign.

The Frenchman now plans to go on holiday before coming back to London in December.

The former France international capped an excellent season for New York Red Bulls, which yielded 15 goals in 29 games, by being one of the three players nominated for the MLS most valuable player of the year award.

Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski are the other nominees.


Giroud: Former club a big threat

20 November 2012 13:29

Olivier Giroud has warned Arsenal of the threat Montpellier hold ahead of Wednesday's 'must-win' Champions League clash.

The 26-year-old knows more about his upcoming opposition than most, having joined the Gunners from Montpellier in the summer, and he has emphasised the need for a victory against the Ligue 1 champions with Arsenal only a point ahead of third-placed Olympiakos in Group B.

The French champions will arrive at the Emirates with their hopes of progressing from the group stage already extinguished, but Giroud has urged caution ahead of the tie.

"It's a must-win match for us because Arsenal have to go through to the next phase of the competition," Giroud told reporters.

"Montpellier have nothing to lose now. They are already eliminated but we have to be careful as that’s when some teams are most dangerous.

"They didn't become champions of France with no talent. We must not take anything for granted when they come to the Emirates."

The Ligue 1 outfit have seen their fortunes change radically since Giroud's summer departure as they currently languish in 14th place in the division they topped last term.

And their former striker suggested that last season’s over-achievement may well have taken the club by surprise.

"I've spoken to some of the guys at Montpellier and they have been having a difficult season," Giroud said.

"It was a big surprise to everyone that we were champions of France and maybe it was hard to digest.

"Last season things seemed to go our way. We were riding a wave and it seems that wave isn't there anymore."


Szczesny relishes Montpellier clash

19 November 2012 14:23

Wojciech Szczesny said Arsenal are 'buzzing' ahead of the Champions League match against Montpellier on Wednesday.

Arsene Wenger's team emerged triumphant from the north London derby on Saturday, beating rivals Tottenham 5-2.

And Szczesny says that the result has put them in the perfect frame of mind for their home match against the defending French champions.

"We couldn't get a better time to play that game (against Montpellier)," he told Arsenal's official website.

"We are buzzing today, we can't wait for the next game. We're confident.

"We've had a couple of poor results recently, but we're back on track and we're confident that we can get the three points and qualify for the knockout stages, which is the least you can ask from us.

"We want to make sure we do the job properly and qualify."

Arsenal are second in their group behind Schalke, who came from behind to draw 2-2 in Gelsenkirchen.

They remain on course to qualify for the next round, however, and Szczesny hopes that the victory over Spurs will prove the catalyst for a change in their patchy form.

"I know that over the last few weeks the fans might have been frustrated, and we understand that completely," he said.

"I think the team and the fans work as a unit, and they were fantastic (against Tottenham), they helped us to get a boost before the game and helped keep us going.

"They deserve a lot of credit for the result as well. We're certainly hoping that they can keep it the same and help us to win all the fixtures coming up.

"Obviously, all Premier League games are as important as the next one but I think the fans enjoy it just that little bit more (against Tottenham) - when we won you could see how much they were buzzing after the game.

"At the final whistle there were still 60,000 people there - the only fans who left were the Tottenham fans. It was fantastic."


Ramsey: We must beat Montpellier

18 November 2012 13:05

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey says the Gunners must win their Champions League clash with Montpellier on Wednesday.

With two games left to play in Group B, the north London outfit are one point behind leaders Schalke and one ahead of third-placed Olympiakos, with the Welshman looking to beat the already-eliminated French side at home in the hope of taking first spot.

"The group is pretty tight, so I think you can say we have to win that game," he told the club's official website. "We are at home, so hopefully we can do that and put ourselves in a strong position to qualify.

"When we played them in France we were under pressure for periods of the game and we did well to get a result.

"They have competed against every team in the group and shown that they can create and can be a threat, so they will be no pushover. They will want to prove something as well. We have to be aware of that and be on top of our game on the day."

Ramsey is keen for Arsenal to top their group, as such giving them a better chance of avoiding one of the bigger teams in the next round, though qualification is the primary aim.

"Finishing second has been quite costly in the last few years," he said. "We finished second in the group a couple of seasons ago and played Barcelona.

"So you know you're going to have a strong team if you do finish second but, most importantly, we need to qualify and, if we do, we're confident that we can compete and challenge against any team in the competition. But we must qualify first and then go from there."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
4 12 +11 23
5 12 +7 22
6 12 +6 22
7 12 +3 22
8 12 -2 18

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
6 13 -5 19
7 13 -4 18
8 13 +1 17
9 13 -2 17
10 13 -5 16