Arsenal 2-0 Montpellier Continuity Starting to Reap Rewards for New-Look Arsenal
Arsenal's comfortable 2-0 victory over Montpellier was the result of the continuity now existing in their new-look squad. The win means Arsenal qualify from the UEFA Champions League group stages for the 13th consecutive year.
Arsene Wenger can now rely on a settled starting lineup, and that's creating consistency and rapport in midfield and attack. That point was reinforced by both of Arsenal's goalscorers against last season's French champions.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere pounced to net Arsenal's first. Then, wide forward Lukas Podolski outdid him with a superb strike for the second.
That both goals were created by smart link-up play from Olivier Giroud shows familiarity is creating positive results in attack. The bullish central striker has now started the last five games for Arsenal.
That's helped Giroud find his scoring form and build his confidence. Just as important, regular playing time for Giroud is improving his rapport with his partners in attack.
This was particularly evident in how well he combined with Lukas Podolski against Montpellier. The pair played a quick, clever exchange to free Podolski to fire in an accomplished volley.
Later, it was the German who turned provider. He heeded Giroud's call for the ball with a nice reverse pass.
Giroud shot against the goalkeeper, but the move demonstrated the burgeoning partnership between Wenger's summer attacking recruits.
That comfort and familiarity certainly wasn't obvious in Arsenal's first-half display. Many players wasted passes and failed to correctly judge forward runs from others.
Such scrappy and incoherent play is simply the result of the continuity the Gunners have missed this season.
Continuity was the one thing Arsenal lacked at the start of the campaign. The problem was most obvious in attack, as Wenger flip-flopped between Giroud and Gervinho as his central striker.
Both have specific styles, and each man's presence alters the pattern of Arsenal's approach play. With Giroud in the team, the Gunners can emphasize an aerial outlet, and their midfield clearly benefits.
That's a midfield that is now the easiest area of the team to pick. Arsenal fans can expect to see the trio of Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla dictating the team's style.
For attack-minded technicians like Cazorla and Wilshere, Giroud's power in the air acts as the perfect foil. They are given more freedom of movement knowing that Giroud can hold the ball up and react to their runs.
That means Cazorla doesn't have to stay as close to the front line as he did at the start of the season. He can now be fluid and dovetail his movement with Wilshere's forays forward.
That level of understanding and timing only comes with familiarity.
Arsenal now have the continuity they need to produce the consistency that can get them back in the trophy hunt.
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