Arsenal has been jokingly referred to as a French side in the past, and the Gunners will need to defeat an actual French team in Montpellier in order to ensure safe passage through to the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side has come under a significant amount criticism for its inconsistency this season, but an impressive win in the North London derby this past weekend has given the Gunners new life. Now, they will look for their key players to come through with quality performances in order for their success to carry over from England to Europe.
Montpellier are already eliminated, but still have a slim chance at qualifying for the Europa League. This, and a chance to take down an Arsenal side led by one of their former stars, will provide enough motivation for the French side to put up a fight.
Both sides will turn to their stars to lead a victory in this showdown, and here are the players who must step up for their side to win.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Giroud rose to stardom with Montpellier and played a large part in getting the team into this competition.
He scored 24 goals and recorded nine assists in all competitions last season, with both totals ending up as the top marks on the team. He was far and away Montpellier's best player, and was instrumental in their Ligue 1 championship.
Without Giroud, Montpellier is 14th in the French table after 13 league matches, but his performances in London have drawn mixed reviews.
He has been in excellent form recently, and he must continue his fine play against his former club in order for Arsenal to earn a positive result.
Souleymane Camara, Montpellier
Camara has taken over centre-forward duties for Montpellier following Giroud’s exit, and he must outperform his former teammate in order for his team to win.
The Senegalese striker must keep constant pressure on Arsenal’s back line in order to create space for his midfielders. If he is not clever with his movement and judicious with his touches, it will be a long game for Montpellier.
But most importantly, he cannot waste any opportunities. Arsenal is the better side in this contest, and any quality chance Camara receives may be his last for the match.
If Camara is not focused and in form throughout the 90 minutes, the Gunners will cruise to victory.
Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal
Camara’s adversary in this game will be the Arsenal skipper.
If Vermaelen is able to establish an advantage over Montpellier’s striker and neutralize him for most of the match, the French side will be able to accomplish little when moving forward.
The Belgian centre-back is capable of shutting down Europe’s top strikers when he is on the top of this game. If this is the case in this upcoming fixture, it will give the Gunners a massive advantage.
With a fine performance at the back from Vermaelen, Arsenal stands an excellent chance at keeping a clean sheet.
Younes Belhanda, Montpellier
The young attacking midfielder was the mastermind behind Montpellier’s lone goal in the first meeting between these two teams.
He was able to get the better of Vermaelen by drawing a foul in the penalty area and coolly converting the subsequent spot kick.
If he is able to find space in the midfield, it will cause massive problems for the Gunners’ defense. Montpellier will want to put the ball at his feet as often as possible.
With first-class performances from Belhanda and Camara, Montpellier will not make it easy for the Gunners to earn the result they want.
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