Montpellier vs. Arsenal  1 - 2


Arsenal spirit shone through, says Bould

19 September 2012 02:24

Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould praised the team's spirit in their 'tough' 2-1 win over Montpellier in the Champions League.

Bould was standing in for Arsene Wenger, with the Frenchman serving the first of his three-game touchline ban, as goals from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho completed the turnaround after Younes Belhanda had given the home side an eighth-minute lead from the penalty spot.

And Bould was pleased with the result after the Gunners withstood a Montpellier onslaught in the second half.

"I am really pleased. It was difficult. I thought we were excellent in the first half – we kept the ball and kept the crowd quiet," he told Sky Sports.

"We looked a little bit tired in the second half. It was tough. It is quite an intimidating place to come and play so we're glad to get the result.

"It's fabulous to get an early away win. We've had a decent start to the season and we have kept the run going so it is important all round, for the whole season.

"We've got great team spirit and I think that was evident tonight. Everybody is digging in and things are looking OK."

Olivier Giroud started the match on his return to former club Montpellier, and although he failed to find the mark again, he provided a vital assist for Podolski which didn't go unnoticed.

"Olivier (Giroud) did a really good team job for us tonight. He works really, really hard for the team," Bould said.

"At set-pieces he is fabulous. He defends and he works for the team. He had one chance at the near post that was difficult. He is a really hard-working boy and I'm sure the goals will come."

Giroud was delighted to get the victory and paid tribute to the home fans for cheering him throughout the match.

"I tried to stay really focused before the game. I did not go out, I wanted to keep my mind on the pitch and I did it pretty well," he said.

"Tonight we got the victory and I was really glad about the way the fans cheered for me.

"Look, I didn't score the goal which would have helped me and definitely kick-started my season, but I was decisive by giving an assist to Lukas (Podolski)."

Disappointed Montpellier manager Rene Girard was left to rue a five-minute lapse in concentration from his side that ultimately cost them the game.

"We should be disappointed with how things went. We lost our concentration for five minutes against a team like Arsenal and we were punished," he said.

"In the second half I saw my team playing as I like them to; with a lot of desire and motivation and creating chances. However, you need to convert them.

"Unfortunately we paid for a lack of conviction in the first half. I also think that the lads were not relaxed, they were worrying about how to play and how our opponents could counterattack us.

"There were five minutes when we conceded two goals and against such a team that is not allowed. This is a high level and we have much to learn."


Szczesny out of Montpellier clash

17 September 2012 17:20

Wojciech Szczesny will miss Arsenal's opening Champions League fixture against Montpellier because of an ankle injury.

The Polish goalkeeper sustained the injury during his side's 6-1 rout of Southampton on Saturday.

Vito Mannone is expected to deputise in goal for Tuesday's match against the Ligue 1 champions.

Szczesny played in the Premier League opening day 0-0 draw with Sunderland, but then missed the following stalemate with Stoke City after failing a late fitness test, and sat out the win over Liverpool.

Mannone has represented Arsenal in the Champions League before, stepping in against Standard Liege for his first appearance in the competition in 2009, where he conceded twice in the first five minutes.

The former Atalanta custodian fared better in his second opportunity, keeping a clean sheet against Olympiacos in the same campaign before going on to face the Greek side once more in the 2011/12 season.


UEFA Champions League Group B preview: Giroud returns to Montpellier

17 September 2012 13:41

Olivier Giroud makes an emotional return to Montpellier as Arsenal start their Champions League campaign on Tuesday.

The French striker impressed for the Ligue 1 champions last term before making the move to the English Premier League.

But he has taken time to settle at the Emirates Stadium, still goalless for the north Londoners heading into the Group B encounter at the Stade de la Mosson.

Arsenal enter the clash on the back of a 6-1 thrashing of newly promoted Southampton, an outing Giroud was axed for.

Arsene Wenger admits Giroud, who has said he will not celebrate if he nets against his former club, is no certainty to start in France.

"I felt he was under a lot of pressure at the moment and sometimes it's good to get a little breather," the Arsenal manager said.

"I honestly don't know what I will do against Montpellier in the Champions League this week.

"I just felt the time had come for him to not be under so much pressure."

German forward Lukas Podolski has had no such problems settling, taking his tally for the league season to two goals with a stunning free-kick against Southampton.

In contrast to the unbeaten league start Arsenal have made to their campaign, Montpellier have struggled.

Rene Girard's men have won just one of their first five matches this season, with their latest defeat a 3-1 loss to Reims on Friday.

Adding to their problems, Nigerian international John Utaka picked up a thigh injury and is in doubt for the meeting with Arsenal.

In the other Group B game, Schalke make the difficult trip to the Karaiskakis Stadium to take on Greek league champions Olympiacos.

Olympiacos have made a bright start to their title defence, winning all three of their opening games, while Schalke are also unbeaten to start the season.

Rafik Djebbour has filled the void left by Kevin Mirallas, who moved to Everton in July, netting four league goals.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looms as a huge threat for Olympiacos - the Dutchman has been prolific with the Bundesliga side since joining in August 2010.

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
6 21 -4 31
7 21 -3 29
8 21 +4 28
9 21 -4 28
10 22 -10 27

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
4 23 +25 47
5 23 +25 44
6 23 +11 39
7 23 -1 34
8 23 +2 31