Montpellier HSC 1-2 Arsenal: Match Report

By Adeniyi Samuel (@seynx)­­­­­­­­

Manager Arsene Wenger started his three match UEFA ban today thereby paving way for assistant manager Steve Bould to take charge of the team for the first time this season. Steve Bould made just three changes from the starting lineup that spanked Southampton during the weekend.

Vito Mannone replaced injured Wojciech Szczeny as Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson completed the back line. Abou Diaby was passed fit to start. Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Gervinho were the guys for the middle, while Lukas Podolski and Montpellier old boy Olivier Giroud were the front two.

The hosts started the game in a brilliant way after just nine minute as they were rewarded with a penalty kick after Arsenal’s captain Thomas Vermaelen brought down Younnes Belhanda. Even though the replay showed the tackle was on the edge of the area. Younnes Belhanda picked himself up to take the penalty which was dispatched in a cheeky way.

It took just nine minute for Arsenal to respond. Ever reliable Santi Cazorla found Olivier Giroud with a fine pass which was then reversed to Lukas Podolski who slotted home past the helpless Montpellier goalkeeper.  Two minutes later, the man in form Gervinho danced his way past three defenders, but his attempted pass to Giroud was deflected to the path of Carl Jenkinson who then cross to Gervinho to score his first ever Champions League goal. As half-time approached, Giroud, who struck 21 goals for Montpellier last season, swept wide after Kieran Gibbs crossed from the left.

Arsenal, though, was almost caught out after the restart when Diaby dithered on the ball inside his own area and was robbed by Cabella, who slammed a shot just wide of the post.  Montpellier continued to make the most of its dominant spell, as Arsenal was guilty of some stray passing when out to break up possession.  Cabella remained the danger man, and 10 minutes into the second half he clipped a delightful 20-yard chip against the crossbar.  Diaby then surged through the Montpellier side and played in Cazorla, whose angled drive was beaten behind by the keeper.  With 15 minutes left, Giroud was replaced by Aaron Ramsey. The France international left the field to general applause, although there were some boos around the unforgiving Stade de la Mosson.

Belhanda spurned a golden opportunity to level with 10 minutes left when some quick footwork sidestepped Per Mertesacker after a cross into the Arsenal box from the right, but he then fired straight at Mannone.  In the end it was a great performance by the Gunners. The Bould effect is really nice on the team.