Rating the Arsenal Players in Win vs. Montpellier
Arsenal clinched their place in the knockout stages of Champions League competition Wednesday night with a professional 2-0 victory over Montpellier.
Jack Wilshere's second-half opener was swiftly doubled by a stunning Lukas Podolski volley that has to be seen to be believed.
The result leaves the Gunners fighting for top spot in the group with German side Schalke, who also won their respective clash against Oympiacos.
Here are the full player ratings for the Arsenal side, based on a 1-10 scale.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6
Not much for Wojciech Szczesny to do between the sticks for Arsenal Wednesday.
There was a moment in the first half when he almost fluffed a searching Bendimo cross, but apart from that, he hardly put a foot wrong.
The Polish keeper is the Gunners' No. 1—a fact that won't change after tonight.
Bacary Sagna: 6
Arsenal's right-back did his job well against Montpellier, but in truth, was hardly troubled defensively.
The French side seemed far more committed to attacking down Vermaelen's flank with Anthony Mounier, and as such, left Sagna with very little to do for much of the game.
Going forward, he often found himself in dangerous positions and swung in a few tempting crosses too that were unlucky to miss their mark.
Per Mertesacker: 7
After a very up-and-down performance against Tottenham at the weekend, Per Mertesacker bounced back with an assured display at the heart of Arsenal's defence.
He even put on the style at one point in the second half, spinning past his marker with a Zidane-like guile.
The German may not be the most agile player, but without Gaetan Charbonnier ever really troubling him with attacking runs, his game was an uneventful one.
Laurent Koscielny: 7
Arsenal's best defender by a shade in the win despite a late moment of madness.
Laureny Koscielny still has a way to go before hitting the peaks of last season's form, but his performance Wednesday night went a long way to proving his doubters wrong.
Like Mertesacker, the French centre back even had an attacking run that thrilled the Emirates faithful with its daring.
Thomas Vermaelen: 7
Having made some dodgy mistakes in past weeks, Thomas Vermaelen was much improved against Montpellier.
In his now familiar left-back role, the Belgian defender clearly relished the opportunity to drift forward up the flank.
His cross in the buildup to Jack Wilshere's goal was perfectly weighted and deserved an assist on its own merits.
Mikel Arteta: 6
Yet another influential but understated performance by Mikel Arteta in holding midfield.
The Spaniard perhaps struggled to get a grip on the middle of the park for long periods, but eventually began dictating matters after his side had gone in front.
The Arteta-Wilshere partnership is not yet telepathic, but it's getting there.
Jack Wilshere: 7
The typically enterprising Jack Wilshere got a deserved goal that succeeded in calming nerves in North London.
His second-half effort was his first in two years—and the relief etched on his face as he celebrated reflected the fact.
The Englishman's passing and movement was good Wednesday night, but even more so his tenacity and determination in the face of some tough tackling.
Santi Cazorla: 8
Santi Cazorla, "Arsenal's Messi," played yet another blinder against Montpellier.
The Spanish playmaker seemed to be involved in everything going forward, feeding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski out wide and Giroud through the middle with ease.
His agility and deft touch often left Montpellier players chasing shadows.
Lukas Podolski: 7
Lukas Podolski's rasping volley has to be a contender for the club's goal of the season.
The goal exhibited the kind of technique and power that, dare I say it, one Robin van Persie once showed at Arsenal.
But tonight was about the German, even if he wasn't always the best performer on the pitch.
Olivier Giroud: 8
Quite possibly Olivier Giroud's best performance to date in an Arsenal shirt.
The striker was clearly up for a reunion with his former side, committing to 50/50s on the ground and in the air with a reckless enthusiasm.
His knock down for Wilshere's opener and flick for Podolski's howitzer showed why he doesn't need to score to stand out.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Having returned from a spell on the sidelines injured, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a welcome returnee to the Arsenal lineup Wednesday night.
The attacking midfielder looked a little rusty though for much of the game—understandable considering the circumstances.
If he can stay fit throughout the winter, a key role in the team may be on the cards for the youngster.
What did you make of Arsenal's performance against Montpellier? Who stood out in the win?