Last season, Olivier Giroud netted a haul of 21 goals in Ligue 1. That was the joint highest scoring total in the top French league, and his goals, along with nine assists on the season, helped fire Montpellier to their maiden French title. The 25 year old Giroud will be the centre of attention on Tuesday night, as his new club Arsenal head across the English Channel to face his former club on the opening night of this season’s Champions League group matches.
Giroud has yet to open his account for Arsenal in the Premier League, but he was drafted in over the summer, along with German international Lukas Podolski to offer Arsenal something extra up front. The young Frenchman was deemed to be cover for established Gunners striker Robin van Persie, but with the exit of the Dutchman to Manchester United in the summer, Olivier Giroud has found himself having to deal with the weight of expectation upon his shoulders. It is a pressure which has has yet to handle in the Premier League, and was resigned to the substitutes bench for Arsenal’s league match against Southampton on the weekend.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that there is pressure on Giroud to find the back of the net for the first time in an Arsenal shirt. Giroud looks to be struggling, even when coming off the bench as Arsenal romped to a 6-1 victory over the Saints on the weekend, the Frenchman could not make any impact in the game. The player himself has said that he will never forget the beautiful season which he had last season with Montpellier, but in facing his former club, all sentimentality must go out of the window.
Arsenal head to the Stade de la Mosson on Tuesday night, the team out of the two, in better form. Arsenal have looked a better and better side every time they have stepped out onto the pitch this season, and with their new forward line starting to click, and having conceded just one goal in their opening four matches, they could be a force to be reckoned with, with or without Giroud. Arsene Wenger wants to relieve some of the pressure on the French striker, and being back in familiar surroundings, and wanting to relive some of the good times that the had there, could break the forward out of his shell.
But will Wenger risk him? Giroud will know the Montpellier side well, and that could be a big advantage for Arsenal. Arsenal will face a Montpellier side from which comparisons can be drawn to Giroud. After hitting such remarkable heights last season, the defending Champions are looking like a team under pressure. The standards they set last season have not been hit so far, suffering three defeats and recording just one win in their opening five matches of the season. The Montpellier defence looks vulnerable at the moment and coach Rene Girard has a lot of holes to fix back there. The French side look short on confidence and host Arsenal on the back of another league defeat on the weekend. Therefore, this should be a game which Premier League side Arsenal, and Giroud, given a chance, cash in on.
This will be the first time that the two sides have met in a competitive match. Arsenal have never lost an away fixture against a Ligue 1 side, picking up five wins and three draws in their eight visits to France. However, the Gunners don’t’ have a great away record. When they beat Marseille in last season’s Champions League group stage, that was only their second win in 12 European away matches. However, they look the stronger of the two sides at the moment and whether he gets on to the pitch or not, Olivier Giroud should come away from Montpellier a happy man.
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