Arsenal travel to Montpellier on Tuesday night for their first group game of this season’s Champions League (7.45pm BST). The Gunners smashed six goals past Southampton on the weekend and go into this European fixture in high spirits.
Ahead of the game, manager Arsene Wenger has promised to bring in a few fresh faces. The Frenchman says the core of the weekend’s team will remain, but we’re likely to see three or four changes.
Wenger has a fantastic squad to choose from: Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Abou Diaby and Laurent Koscielny are just a few of the names who could be brought in. And let’s not forget Olivier Giroud, who is also likely to start against his former side this week.
Giroud is yet to find his way onto the score sheet for Arsenal this season – a very good chance on the weekend against Southampton was wasted when Theo Walcott failed to find the striker in the penalty area. If Giroud starts, he’ll be in a very familiar environment at the home of the current French champions. What better place to get off the mark in an Arsenal shirt?
Another point to make about Arsenal is their fantastic defence, which really hasn’t been put under great pressure so far this season. It was incredibly disappointing from Arsene Wenger’s point of view to allow Southampton onto the scoreboard with their solitary goal at the Emirates. The goal, however, was more a fault of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny than his defence.
That is perhaps the only worry for Arsenal at this stage: how can Szczesny’s lack of concentration at times affect the game? The young Polish keeper’s confidence and ability should not be questioned, but his level of focus and complacency is a real concern.
It should also be said that Arsenal are not the best travellers when playing in European competition. They did well away in the group stages of last year’s competition, but it’s been so predictable of the Gunners to fall away to weaker opposition.
Their hosts of the night, reigning French champions Montpellier, have not started this season well. They have lost three of their five league games so far with only one win to show for it. Maybe the pressures of defending the league title are too overwhelming, or perhaps the team are just suffering at the loss of their star striker and leading goal scorer of last season.
Montpellier were comfortably beaten 3-1 in their last game away to Reims, and if that performance is anything to go by, Arsenal should have no trouble getting a handful of goals in this Champions League tie.
Montpellier’s key players are captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, a versatile and very promising defender who was linked with Arsenal over the summer, and midfielder Younes Balhanda, who formed a very good partnership with Giroud last season. Emanuel Herrera is the striker brought in by the club to fill the void left by Giroud. The Argentine striker has two goals in five games for his new side. Good players but they’re unlikely to be enough against a team in Arsenal who are noticeably better.
Montpellier v Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
I don’t think Arsenal’s away troubles in Europe will haunt them in this game. I fancy Arsene Wenger’s side to get the away win they’ll be looking for: