Played brilliantly and didn’t get the result, how many times in recent years have we said that after a game, this time however the opposite was true, against Montpelier we were fairly unimpressive, especially in second half, but we got the result and that’s what really matters.
We started well, and dominated the early stages, only for the referee to award a penalty for a challenge by Thomas Vermaelen, don’t think he really needed to make the tackle, think he could have stayed on his feet and still dealt with the danger, that being said I’m not convinced it was a penalty, very few of the Montpelier players even appealed and I think yet again we’ve received harsh treatment from a Champion’s League referee. Fair play to Belhanda though, who showed great composure and balls of steel as he cheekily chipped his penalty straight down the middle.
In the end it didn’t matter though, two goals in three minutes saw us turn things around, Podolski showed again how clinical he can be in front of goal, after a great little pass from Giroud, Podolski coolly slotted the ball past the keeper to pull us level, and then great work from Jenkinson down the right, saw him whip in the cross, perfectly into the path of the incoming Gervinho who tucked it away, making it 3 goals in two games for the Ivorian.
In the second half Montpelier were much improved and at times they were overrunning us, they created several chances and in all honestly we were lucky not to concede a second goal, especially when Belhanda found himself with the ball at his feet 6 yards out and ended up hitting it straight at Mannone. Had the Frenchman showed the same composure he had when taking the penalty he would have scored with ease, and given Montpelier the point they probably deserved for their second half performance.
Personally I wasn’t too surprised that only a few changes were made to the starting line up and not the mass changes being predicted before the game, with 5 days before the City game and with presumably Wenger not wanting to change a winning side it made sense. Having said that at times in the second half we did look a bit tired, Diaby in particular looked like he was struggling at times and made several mistakes that almost cost us the points.
Olivier Giroud’s “goal drought” continued, which will just add fuel to those saying he’s a flop already, which is absolutely ridiculous, it takes time to adjust to a new country and new style of play, some players take longer to adjust than others, don’t forget it took Dennis Bergkamp seven games to score his first Arsenal goal and Thierry Henry didn’t score until his eighth game for the club, both of them are clearly rubbish though and didn’t go on to do anything at the club. Give the guy a break, he’s working hard for the team, and the goals will come if we’re patient.
Overall you have to say Montpelier didn’t deserve to lose and at times we certainly rode our luck defensively, we weren’t awful second half, it was more that Montpelier were very impressive and made us look ordinary at times. We battled hard for the win though and away games in the Champions League are all about the result rather than the performance, three points from any away game is a massive result and that’s all that really matters. Hopefully a few days of rest will see the players come back revitalised for the game against City on Sunday.
My Man of the Match: Podolski, took his goal well and worked hard getting back and helping out defensively when needed.