It’s a Champions League night again. Which can mean only one thing. Swollen red eyes. Mind devoid of sleep. Some ‘late night to early morning snacks’ and of course Arsenal.
Saturday’s derby win was emphatic, and probably a reminder to the team how good they actually are. Yes, it was only f*cking Sp*rs, and they were down to 10 men, but if history is anything to go by, it should act as a catalyst for good things to come.
Arsenal were ruthless, decisive and direct, looking to make use of every gap that the opposition provided, and it is this same bullish mentality we need to carry forward, in what is a must-win game against French champions Montpellier.
For once, the players didn’t look jaded, or clueless. Far too often, we have seen Arsenal’s players this season going for the same ball, ramming into each other. There has been a look of fatigue, mental as well as physical, post that Interlull after the West Ham game. But, the players now look in confident and determined mood to kick start their campaign.
Theo Walcott –
I think the better team won,They did have some good patches but in the grand scheme of things I think we deserved to win.We were very ruthless going forward and had five different goalscorers, which hasn’t happened for a while.It’s funny that it’s the same scoreline as last year – who would have thought that?it has been up and down [this season]. I am starting to get back into the team, and we have people like Santi Cazorla who has shone in his first season in England, Olivier Giroud is starting to show what he can do, Lukas Podolski is getting goals which is very useful and we have Jack [Wilshere] back.I think the confidence has always been there. But this was a massive win for us.
It’s very important. We want to stick to the top. From now on, we just need to keep focused, look forward and win game by game.It was amazing to play. It’s always a great pleasure to play [in] a derby, especially when you win. It’s just great. We managed to score many goals.
A few of the players have said that I should go back and do the journey again, because it’s obviously helped my form!It was a long journey and a hard one, but I was able to rest and I feel good now.Jack has a quality that everyone knows about, and he is a crucial player for us,Every day, he gets better and playing with him gets easier every day, as he improves his level and finds his fitness again.We have to be patient but he will keep on improving. I am starting to understand Jack a little bit more but that is the same with all of my team-mates. We are getting better with every game.Everyone had been explaining to me that we had to win,that it was a derby, that there is so much rivalry.The main thing is that the fans were able to enjoy themselves and that, by the end of the game, they could be quite comfortable.It’s beautiful the way they have been with me ever since I arrived. It means a lot. It makes me really happy that the fans show me so much affection. It’s lovely to hear.
We couldn’t get a better time to play that game [against Spurs],Obviously, all Premier League games are as important as the next one but I think the fans enjoy it just that little bit more [against Tottenham] – when we won you could see how much they were buzzing after the game.At the final whistle there were still 60,000 people there – the only fans who left were the Tottenham fans. It was fantastic.We are buzzing today, we can’t wait for the next game. We’re confident.We’ve had a couple of poor results recently, but we’re back on track and we’re confident that we can get the three points and qualify for the knockout stages, which is the least you can ask from us.We want to make sure we do the job properly and qualify.
Yeah, yeah, we kind of get it. All is well and good with the team. Arteta and Giroud are having their mythical talks draped in red velvet, while Wilshere and Cazorla attempt a slightly midgety version of the same.
However, emphasis tonight should be maintaining the same level of intensity throughout. Tonight’s game becomes even more crucial, considering that Olympiakos and Arsenal are seperated by just a point. If Olympiakos can muster a draw in Germany, and Arsenal fail to win, it could go right down to the wire.
Olympiakos isn’t the easiest of places to go, if you need a result, if past games there are anything to go by. Of course, we sent our reserve teams there, one of them even containing a Hollywood star.
Arsenal were boosted by the return of Messrs Szczesny to goal, and I think that is a major upgrade from Vito Mannone. No disrespect to Mannone. He is a great option to have as a third choice goalkeeper, but in games gone by, he just never instilled enough confidence in the defence.
There was a lack of communication, and it was becoming far too easy to predict, and teams took advantage of it over and over again. Per Mertesacker expressed his delight at having Szczesny back in the squad.
Arsene Wenger, meanwhile was quick to praise the contributions of the German himself, as well as Olivier Giroud, who seems to be finding his old form of late. Despite all the criticism hurled at Mertesacker last season, he has been our best centre-back this season, which goes to show the German’s willingness to work hard. He is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Olivier Giroud endured a frustrated start, and was written off by the stupid media as Chamakh 2.0, but he has shown glimpses of his quality, and what he can bring to the table. His presence in the opposition box, his ability to lure defenders into his charm has been his forte this season.
And, he is coming into a good nick, at about the right time of the season. The French striker spoke about how dangerous Montpellier can be, despite having nothing to play for, while his former coach Rene Girard told his side to be wary of Giroud.
Right, team news then. Theo Walcott is ruled out with a shoulder injury he picked up against Sp*rs. Apart from that, there are returns for Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho. Andre Santos has been ruled out. Benjamin Stambouli (virus), injured forward John Utaka, full-back Garry Bocaly and suspended striker Souleymane Camara are all out for Montpellier.
Here is how the teams have lined up.
Montpellier look to have lined up more defensively, though it can be attributed to the lack of personnel at the moment. 5 defenders, including Mathieu Delpagne have been named. Hunch is he could start in defensive midfield.
The French champions caused Arsenal enough problems last time around, with their clever and quick passing play. Younes Belhanda and Remy Cabella look two fine prospects for the future. Montpellier’s top scorer Camara is out, which means young Gaetan Charbonnier will have to lead the line.
Arsenal should really put this game to bed early on. Montpellier are known to slowly claim their way into the game, something they did in France, in the earlier group game. They had several chances, but a combination of Mannone, some last ditch clearances and the post helped us keep the 3 points.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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