Arsenal’s Champions League campaign kicks off tonight, and they face Ligue 1 Champions Montpellier. The match will also see Arsenal’s highly-rated Olivier Giroud face his former club, but can he help Arsenal bag a victory?
Unlike summer arrivals Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud has found it hard to settle in North London, and has yet to score for his new club. However, if there is ever a night to break that duck it must be tonight.
A slow start at Arsenal can be forgiven for Giroud, having experienced similar circumstances in his first season at Montpellier. Arriving in 2010, Giroud found the net a modest 12 times in 37 league games in his first season for the club. More importantly, he scored just one goal in his opening six games. There is no doubt Giroud can replicate his scoring form at Arsenal, and as he has shown in the past, it will be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ this begins.
Giroud then helped guide Montpellier to the Ligue 1 title last year, and was named the league’s top scorer after netting 21 for the table-topping side. His departure from the club this year however looks to have left a big gap, with the French outfit sitting 16th in the league after recording just one win in their opening five games.
Giroud, bought from FC Tours in the 2011-12 season, soon became Montpellier’s record departure following his £10.5m move to Arsenal this summer. If replacement Anthony Mounier is given a start, to which he must earn ahead of former Portsmouth player John Utaka, he will partner Moroccan Younes Belhanda - Giroud’s strike partner last year – who scored 13 goals and provided five assists in the 2011-12 campaign. In his four league starts this year, he has scored just one goal and created another, and it seems Giroud has left quite the gap at Montpellier.
The club, notoriously known for struggling with relegation and financial issues, has experienced their fair share of success since the arrival of head coach Rene Girard in 2009. Working on a budget fifty times less than league rivals Paris Saint-Germain, they reached table-topping glory last season to record by far their highest achievement in the club’s history, but have so far failed to mimic this achievement after a sluggish start this year.
With Arsenal in hot scoring form following their 6-1 demolition of Southampton last weekend, they travel to Montpellier with every intention of securing three points and starting their Champions League campaign with a bang. If Giroud is part of Wenger’s starting XI going into the game, be sure to expect the goal-hungry striker to come close to scoring on his return to Stade de la Mosson tonight.
Can Olivier Giroud break his duck and score his first goal for Arsenal?
image: © ronnie macdonald