Montpellier - Arsenal Preview: French champions make first ever Champions League appearance against in-form Gunners
The hosts make their debut in Europe's premier competition and will be hoping to put their rotten league form behind them as they face Arsene Wenger's side who hit six on Saturday
By James McManus
Bocaly, Hilton, Yanga-Mbiwa, Bedimo
Camara, Belhanda, Ait-Fana
Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Podolski
Montpellier coach Rene Girard will welcome back both Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Remy Cabella after resting them at the weekend during their defeat to newly-promoted Stade Reims.
John Utaka will miss the fixture after picking up an injury at the weekend while left-back Henri Bedimo is a doubt.
Goalkeeper Woijech Szczesny has been ruled out with an ankle injury, so Vito Mannone - who has impressed while deptusing earlier in the season - will take up the mantle in goal. Youngster James Shea will step up to the substitutes' bench.
There are still concerns over Olivier Giroud's replacement in the side, though, with Emmanuel Herrera struggling for form which has contributed to their slow start to the season.
Arsene Wenger will have to monitor whether Theo Walcott has recovered fully from the effects of a virus and if Abou Diaby has got over his small muscle injury sustained on international duty with France.
Elsewhere, Jack Wilshere (ankle), Bacary Sagna (broken leg), Tomas Rosicky (Achilles), Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder) and Emmanuel Frimpong (ACL) are all long-term absences and are set to miss the trip.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Montpellier have lost three of their opening five league games this season.
- Olivier Giroud (pictured right) was the club's top goalscorer last season with 21 league goals as he spearheaded their attack on their way to the Ligue 1 title.
- This is the club's first ever game in the Champions League.
- They have scored 49 goals in Uefa competition in the past.
- Arsenal have now qualified for the Champions League group stages for 15 seasons in a row.
- This is the first time that the two clubs have ever met in a competitive fixture.
- Arsene Wenger's side have a good record against French clubs in European competition, having won five and drawn three in the past.
- However, they have won just two of their last 12 games away in Europe, losing eight of those fixtures.
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Top 3 Predictions
Montpellier Herault SC 0-2 Arsenal FC
- 22.91 %
Montpellier Herault SC 0-3 Arsenal FC
- 16.63 %
Montpellier Herault SC 1-3 Arsenal FC
- 12.12 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Nov 2012||Arsenal FC 2 - Montpellier Herault SC 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18 Sep 2012||Montpellier Herault SC 1 - Arsenal FC 2|
|Montpellier Herault SC|
|13 Dec 2013||Montpellier Herault SC 0 - AS Saint-Etienne 1||Lig1|
|8 Dec 2013||Toulouse FC 1 - Montpellier Herault SC 1||Lig1|
|4 Dec 2013||Montpellier Herault SC 0 - FC Lorient 2||Lig1|
|29 Nov 2013||Olympique de Marseille 2 - Montpellier Herault SC 0||Lig1|
|23 Nov 2013||Montpellier Herault SC 1 - EA Guingamp 1||Lig1|
|5||Vitorino Hilton da Silva||Defender|
|18||Karim Ait Fana||Striker|
The creative spark at the heart of Montpellier's best moves, he looks set for a key battle in the middle of the park against Mikel Arteta which promises to be pivotal.
The German has two goals in his last two games and he will be looking to keep his recent run of good form going. Appears to be building a decent partnership with Kieran Gibbs down the left and has been a lively attacking presence so far this term.
Arsene Wenger's side go into the game in fabulous form and they should have enough strength in depth to see off last season's French champions, with the midfield trio including Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla absolutely superb of late.