First game of the Champions League group stages and a positive result for the Gunners. A 2-1 win against the Ligue1 Champions Montpellier in their backyard is always a great result. The scoreline though doesn’t tell the full story of the night.
The game started with Arsenal dominating the possession, in the first few minutes before Montpellier got a foothold in the game. The first action of the game came on 9th minute when Belhanda was brought down inside the box by Vermaelan. It was a clear penalty, Vermaelan never got the ball. Belhanda converted from the spot chipping the ball straight Pirlo-esque style.
Arsene Wenger was absent from the sidelines due to his three-match UEFA ban, but assistant manager Steve Bould filled in well, keeping his side focused after falling behind early.
Arsenal got into the game immediately taking control and working the passes. All the beautiful football paid off in the 16th minute when a lovely string of passes finally ended at Podolski’s feet, where he faked the keeper and slotted home. Giroud who started against his old club got the assist, laying off the ball brilliantly while sucking the Montpellier centre-backs towards him, and releasing Podolski.
Arsenal then turned it around it spectacular fashion when the ball found Jenkinson at the right, where he crossed perfectly to Gervinho to make it 2-1 on the night from 2 yards in the 18th minute.
Montpellier didn’t came straight back with Cabella looking their most dangerous player on the night and one to watch out for in the future. A low shot from him which Mannone dealt with easily was about the it for the first half.
The French Champions announced themselves to Europe with their second half display, where they peppered the Arsenal goal, with Cabella yet again coming close, hitting the cross bar with a cheeky flick from outside the box. Belhanda perhaps came the closest from 4 yards out when Mertesacker completely missed a cross, thankfully Mannone saved. Arsenal couldn’t get the ball off them and only some gritty defending saw them see off the game.
Belhanda and Cabella were the stand out performers from their side. Cabella specially looked a handful, drawing fouls left, right and center, and coming close to scoring twice. Yanga-Mbiwa was a rock in their defense as he dealt with Giroud’s movement all night with comfort.
With a league game against Manchester City at the weekend the players should be confident. Podolski and Gervinho were the best players on the field from Arsenal on the day, with the latter continuing his great run of form, scoring 3 goals in his last 2 games. Giroud who is still looking for his first goal for Arsenal performed well on the night, setting up one, winning almost every header and a great team performance. Arsenal will need to perform better at the weekend,, but confidence should be high.