Arsenal’s good form continued with a win in the opening fixture of the 2012/13 Champions League away at newcomers Montpellier. Granted, we did not witness the same free-flowing football that we saw on the weekend against Southampton (especially in the second half…), but Arsenal got the job done and that is all that matters. We continue our good record of never having lost an away game to a French team in the Champions League.
As soon as Thomas Vermaelen gave away the early penalty I was sure that we would be in for a frustrating evening. However, Arsenal picked themselves up and dealt with going behind for the first time this season pretty well. A goal from Lukas Podolski and another from Gervinho shortly after put us back in the driving seat only a few minutes after Younes Belhanda had opened the scoring with a cheeky chipped penalty. Podolski is looking to be a fantastic signing; he seems to be all over the pitch, is a tough tackler when he needs to be, and his composure in front of goal is amazing. Gervinho is also finally coming out of his shell. He seems to have found his place in the team as a centre forward in the absence of van Persie. His wing play is great, he makes nice runs and he is desperate to get himself in the box at every available opportunity.
The fact that Olivier Giroud still hasn’t scored does not bother me. Lots of people said that it was written that he would score his first goal for Arsenal against his former club. However, it just wasn’t to be. That said, the Frenchman still got a good assist for Podolski’s goal and held up the play really well. He won all but one ariel challenge, his movement was good and he is a big physical presence that we can really use in the team. I agree with Arsène Wenger’s comments that once he starts scoring he will develop into a great player for Arsenal.
Despite their awful league form (they have taken just 4 points from the opening 5 Ligue 1 matches), Montpellier played well and were arguably unlucky not to have taken anything from the game. In my opinion, Abou Diaby had a bit of a mixed evening. He made some nice runs, but was clumsy in possession and could easily have picked up a second yellow after a poor tackle in the last minute. He could easily have given away a penalty, and that would have led to 2 points dropped. Luckily for him, things went our way. Vito Mannone made some important saves and will have plenty of confidence going into this weekends Premier League fixture against Manchester City. If Szczesny is not passed fit then I have every confidence in Vito on Sunday.