Another season, another Champions League campaign for Arsenal t embark upon. Once again, the Gunners have been handed a relatively easy group draw with Montpellier, Olympiacos and Schalke 04 the opposition. Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans fully expect the Gunners to top their group table and progress to the round of 16.
Tonight sees the Gunners travel to the home of the French champions, Montpellier for the opening game of the group stages. Though current champions, Montpellier are struggling in Ligue 1 so far this season and are clearly missing last year’s talismanic Olivier Giroud. The French side lost last Friday 3-1 to Reims and currently sit 17th in the league after winning only one of their opening five fixtures.
Though Arsenal should prove to be too strong for Montpellier, the Gunners should be wary of their play-maker, 22-year-old Younes Belhanda. The young Moroccan is enjoying his role at number 10 and will be a threat to the impressive Arsenal defence. Belhanda has excellent vision and his decision-making is fantastic, making him a definite threat. If his threat can be neutralised then Mertesacker and Vermaelen may have a quiet night.
Arsene is likely to start with the same team tonight as the one that faced Southampton apart from perhaps starting Giroud. Wenger may decide that Giroud will be needed to hold up he ball in the opposition third and bring into play Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Giroud will be also be chomping at the bit to impress against his old side, but let’s hope he does not ‘freeze up’ tonight.
Tonight will also be an important night for Vito Mannone. The Italian shot-stopper has been very impressive this season, keeping two cleans sheets. He will be keen to show his qualities on the European stage.
Tonight’s game at the Stade de la Mosson will be an early indicator of Arsenal’s credentials this season and how far we can expect them to go. The French champions are struggling at the moment whilst Arsenal are on a high. I think the Gunners’ attacking play will prove to be too much for the Montpellier defence and if the Arsenal back line can impress once again then it could be a very good night for the Gunners.