Arsenal vs. Montpellier: Players to Keep an Eye On in Champions League Showdown

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Arsenal vs. Montpellier: Players to Keep an Eye On in Champions League Showdown
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Premier League powerhouse Arsenal will host defending French Ligue 1 champion Montpellier on Wednesday inside the Emirates Stadium in a Champions League Group B showdown.

Arsene Wenger's Gunners took the first meeting in La Mosson, coming from behind to win 2-1, and will need to pick up three points in order to keep pace with group-leading Schalke 04. On the other side, Rene Girard's club has reached a point of desperation. Montpellier has just one point through four matches and will all but be eliminated with anything less than a victory on Wednesday.

Here we get you set with a breakdown of a trio of stars to keep an eye on throughout Wednesday's Champions League clash.

 

Where: Emirates Stadium, England

When: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Start Time: 2:45 p.m. ET

 

Players to Watch

Olivier Giroud, Arsenal

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Offseason addition Olivier Giroud, is Arsenal's leading assist man through four Champions League matches this season. Also, Montpellier just happens to be the French striker's old club.

Giroud has started two matches and come off the bench twice more for manager Arsene Wenger, leading the club in shots with seven in Champions League play.

The 26-year-old has come on strong for Arsenal as of late and will no doubt be inspired to play his best football on Wednesday at the Emirates as he gets set to take on his old teammates.

He already avenged his departure in September, but how sweet a sweep would be for Giroud this November.

 

Younes Belhanda, Montpellier

Montpellier youngster Younes Belhanda has been the club's most effective offensive weapon in Champions League play this year, scoring two goals in four starts. Belhanda's 12 shots (three on target) also lead the squad heading into Wednesday's clash.

Belhanda's ninth-minute penalty strike in the first meeting with Arsenal actually put Montpellier ahead for a few minutes in La Mosson.

The 22-year-old midfielder is a cool customer despite his young age, and will need to be vs. Arsenal this time around as his club faces elimination away from home. It's a tall task for the Moroccan, but he's more than capable of bringing his A-game to the Emirates.

 

Lukas Podolski, Arsenal

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Another offseason acquisition by manager Arsene Wenger, forward Lukas Podolski has been solid for the Gunners up top this fall, scoring four goals and chipping in with three assists in 12 Premier League appearances.

On the Champions League stage, meanwhile, Podolski has scored twice in four starts. One of his two goals came against Montpellier in the two clubs' first meeting back in September. Podolski leveled the match at 1-1 in the 16th minute and Arsenal would go on to win, earning three valuable points away from home.

Even more impressive, Podolski's two goals in Champions League action in 2012-13 have come on only two shots. 

Fans will want to keep an eye on the 27-year-old German international on Wednesday.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.

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