Arsenal managed to do just enough to come out with all three points away at Montpellier in their first Champions League match of the 2012/13 season. While Montpellier have been struggling in their domestic league, it still required Arsenal to register a come from behind victory as the hosts went up 1-0 after a unnecessary challenge from captain Thomas Vermaelen lead to soft penalty early on.
However, the response from Arsenal was immense after quick-fire goals around the quarter-hour mark from Podolski and soon after Gervinho gave Arsenal a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the match. It is not to say, however, they they did this easily. It was very much a hard-fought match by the Gunners with Montpellier having several chances to equalise. Ultimately, and luckily for Arsenal, they squandered all these chances.
First and foremost, the victory means we maintain our fine run of form ahead of our match this weekend against Manchester City. It was always imperative that Arsenal maintained their confidence going into this match and I am glad that they have done that after being given a tough test by Montpellier.
Being the first midweek game this season for the Gunners it was understandable that the players were looking physically tired towards the end of the match. A number of players faded in the second half as the team tried to hold out Montpellier until the final whistle. It wasn’t the greatest win, but was a win all the same!
on the result…
I am really pleased. It was difficult. I thought we were excellent in the first half – we kept the ball and kept the crowd really quiet. The second half was tough and we looked physically a little bit tired. The crowd got right behind them and it is quite an intimidating place to come and play, so we’re glad to get the result.
on a positive start…
It’s fabulous to get an early away win. We’ve had a decent start to the season and we have kept the run going so it is important all round, not just for the Champions League. We have got some tough games coming up. We have got great team spirit and I think that was evident tonight. Everybody is digging in and things are looking OK.
on the enjoyment factor…
I’m not sure I enjoyed it – I’ve got a headache and a half! It is tough. It’s a different pressure than I’ve been used to taking the under-18s but we won and we had a great result.
on Lukas Podolski…
Podolski has made a real impact. I have to say, I’ve not seen many finishers as good as him – ever. In training, right foot, left foot – he goes in at 100mph, which is fabulous. He’s a good trainer, a good boy. He has really added something this year. I’m not getting involved in whether we are missing Robin, I wasn’t involved at the time. Podolski is a good player.
on Olivier Giroud…
Olivier did a really good team job for us tonight. He is another one who works really, really hard for the team. At set-pieces he is fabulous. He defends and he works for the team. I think he only had one chance tonight at the near post that was difficult. He is a really hard-working boy and I’m sure the goals will come.
on defensive improvements…
Any coach will tell you it is about being good players and we have got some good players who want to work. So far, so good. Everybody has spoken about myself but Neil Banfield gets missed and he does a great job, too. There are a lot of good coaches, there are great players and everybody is working hard. I think that is why we’re doing OK at the minute.
on Sunday’s trip to Manchester City…
Of course Sunday is a tough test. We certainly go in there with a bit of confidence, with everybody believing things are going OK. But it is a proper test and that is where we want to be. Hopefully we can come through the other side and say we have done OK again. Everybody is fine, touch wood. Things are looking quite bright.
on Montpellier’s display…
I wouldn’t say Montpellier surprised us, they have got some very good players. Technically they are very, very high level. They kicked the second half off really well and got the crowd behind them. We are physically a little bit tired so it was tough. It wasn’t a surprise.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Gervinnho Cazorla Podolski
Vito Mannone | 6.5: The Italian did little wrong throughout the match. Although was cheekily chipped by Belhanda’s penalty, he managed to cope with everything else thrown his way.
Carl Jenkinson | 6.5: At times lost possession in areas and was caught out of position, but dealt with most things reasonably well. In saying this his forays up field helped out Arsenal’s attack and ultimately lead to a goal after he picked out Gervinho with a low cross.
Per Mertesacker | 6.5: Made several important blocks and won numerous aerial challenges. In a few instances however looked a little sluggish, particularly when he failed to clear the ball late on and gave Belhanda a glorious chance to square things up.
Thomas Vermalen | 6.5: An unnecessary challenge that gifted Montpellier the lead through a penalty. Threreafter however the Belgian international was solid.
Kieran Gibbs | 7.0: Was unable to fluorish on attack as he usually does with Arsenal sitting back for much of the second half. However the Englishman proved to be a vital part of Arsenal’s defensive play.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: Did a great job as the holding midfielder, but still at times was over-run. Was sure in possession, as always.
Abou Diaby | 5.0: Showed flashes of brilliance and madness. Made a couple of schoolboy errors, including giving the ball away in his own half and trying a back-heel flick in a dangerous position. In contrast, made a surging run to set-up Cazorla for a goal-scoring chance. Needs to cut out this errors ahead of a big clash this weekend.
Santi Cazorla | 6.5: Was good in the first half when he ghosted in space between the defensive line and midfield. His contribution somewhat waned in the second half however after Arsenal defended for much of the second.
Olivier Giroud | 6.0: Gave plenty of effort and played an integral part in Podolski’s goal. However only crafted out one chance at goal for himself with his contribution fading in the second half.
Lukas Podolski | 7.5: A great finish from the German who has now scored three goals in three games. Showed a great work ethic, willing to both attack and defend as necessary.
Gervinho | 7.0: Got on the score-sheet again after both starting and finishing off an attacking move. Was lively and influential, but also faded towards the end of the match.
- No Notable substitutions
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