Arsenal face Montpellier tonight in the Champions League knowing that victory will ensure them of a place in the latter stages of the competition. In team news Arsenal will be without Theo Walcott who picked up a shoulder injury against Spurs at the weekend. The England international is not believed to be seriously injured but Wenger decided that they would take any risks on a player who has been prone to injuries in recent months.
Andre Santos is the only new absentee with a groin complaint but Kieran Gibbs returns earlier then expected from a thigh injury to start at left-back. Gervinho also returns for the tie after a spell out with an ankle ailment.
Montpellier have their own serious absence problems after stalwart Cyril Jeunechamp is expected to be absent due to internal punishment for punching a journalist. Striker Souleymane Camara is suspended while John Utaka, Hilton and Karim Ait-Fana are also out with injuries. Garry Bocaly is expected to return and star player Younes Belhanda is back after serving a suspension against Olympiakos.
Montpellier are already out of the competition but need a victory to give them any chance of qualifying third place for the Europa League ahead of Olympiakos.
Arsene Wenger has admitted that there may be an opportunity to re-sign Thierry Henry on loan once again this season. The French legend returned to the club on a loan-deal last season which proved a popular move with the fans and Wenger admits it is an option he is entertaining once again. The veteran striker has been in great form for New York Red Bulls which saw him nominated for MLS MVP earlier in the month and with Gervinho travelling to the African Nations in the New Year Wenger will assess Henry’s fitness and form in training through December before deciding whether to bring him back to The Emirates once again.
Fenerbahce striker Moussa Sow has claimed that both Arsenal and Liverpool tried to sign him in January 2012 after an impressive stint with French club Lille. However he rejected the overtures of the Premier League in order to move to Istanbul due to his religious beliefs. He claims he has no regrets about his decision to move to Turkey instead of the UK.
Pepe Reina remains a transfer target for Arsenal and The Mirror have even mooted the possibility of a swap deal occurring between the two clubs. It is reported Liverpool would want more than just money for the Spaniard and much also depends on their successful pursuit of Wigan stopper Ali Al-Habsi. Nicklas Bendtner, Maraoune Chamakh and even Theo Walcott have been highlighted as potential bait.
Wolfsburg defender Fagner has reportedly emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal. The Brazilian right-back is seen as the perfect option to give competition to Carl Jenkinson in the hypothetical event of Bacary Sagna’s departure. His lack of action for the Brazil national side will make a work-permit difficult to obtain but the 23-year-old right back has been highlighted as the natural successor to Dani Alves in the Brazil team and may be subject of interest in the summer.
What are your thoughts on everything and anything happening at Arsenal in the run-up to their Champions League fixture with Montpellier?