Arsenal get their 2012/13 champions league campaign under way with a tough trip to face French champions Montellier on Tuesday night.
The hosts will be making their debut in Europe’s elite competition after their surprise Ligue 1 triumph last season but go into the game in poor domestic form having lost three of their five games so far.
Arsenal on the other hand are seasoned champions leaguers and will commence their 15th consecutive year in the competition tonight.
We are also in far better form and go into the game off the back of Saturday’s impressive 6-1 hammering of Southampton at the Emirates. A similar performance against Montpellier will surely only result in one outcome; an Arsenal win.
Much of the pre-match talk has centered around Olivier Giroud making a return to his old club and while he hit 20 goals last year for the French outfit, he’s struggled to replicate that form in an Arsenal shirt so far.
Arsene Wenger will be in the stands for this one as he begins his three-match touchline ban, so Steve Bould will be in charge.
Montpellier coach Rene Girard is able to welcome back Mapou-Mbiwa and Remy Cabella after resting them at the weekend. Emmanuel Herrera will continue in attack despite his poor early-season form. Girard has no fresh injury worries.
Arsene Wenger however has had to leave No.1 goalkeeper Woijech Szczesny behind after he picked up an ankle knock. Vito Mannone will come in and look to build upon the two clean sheets he’s collected already this season. Young keeper James Shea will be on the bench.
Theo Walcott is pushing for a start after overcoming the effects of a virus. Abou Diaby is expected to come back in after missing Saturday’s action with a minor muscle problem.
Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky, Lukasz Fabianski and Emmanuel Frimpong all remain out after lengthy lay-offs.
Many Gooners are calling for the boss to make changes with Sunday’s clash with Man City in mind. While Arsene may decide to adopt this approach, i would prefer to see a full-strength side put out.
We shouldn’t be taking any chances for this tricky away tie and getting off to a good start in the champions league is important. As is continuing our good form, and there is no better preparation for Sunday than a good performance and three points tonight.
Giroud is expected to start with Gervinho making way, but after an excellent display and two goals against the Saints, the Ivorian definitely deserves to keep his place in the team.
We should be full of confidence after Saturday’s display and while Montpellier will be no push-overs, Arsenal should be too strong for them. Montpellier 0-2 Arsenal.
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