• Montpellier v Arsenal, Champions League

Wenger: Giroud needs goal to kick-start Gunners career

September 18, 2012

Olivier Giroud will find himself in the spotlight when Arsenal take on his former club Montpellier on Tuesday.

The France international scored 21 goals for Montpellier last year, finishing as Ligue 1 joint top-scorer before joining the Gunners for £12 million this summer.

But he is yet to score in Arsenal colours and could be feeling the pressure as he returns to familiar pastures in the south of France.

His new boss, Arsene Wenger, has no doubt Giroud will come good soon. "With forwards it is more a matter of cycle,'' Wenger said. "Forwards sometimes go through a rough period, but maybe he just needs a goal to get out of this drought.

"Also for forwards it is a little bit different in England. The game is different for two positions, especially for forwards and goalkeepers. It is a real shock for them because there is a lot more contact.''

Regardless of whether tomorrow is the night he breaks his duck, Montpellier coach Rene Girard expects Giroud to get a good reception. "Olivier Giroud only left good memories here,'' he said.

"He was a very loyal player and man, who did very well for us last season to help win the title. I think the fans will welcome him very warmly, but not too much, maybe with just a little 'hi' and a wave.''

Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa remains close with his former team-mate, and shared a joke while away during the recent international break. "We talked about the game together and a bit about his drought in England,'' the defender said.

"He managed to do pretty well last season, and sometime you need time to adapt. However, I told him it will not be easy against us - and also that he will not score here in Montpellier.''

Montpellier were surprise Ligue 1 champions, and Girard now hopes to cause a few more upsets in their first Champions League adventure. "Many of the players haven't been in this competition before,'' he said. "It's a way for the club and the players to grow.

"It's very intense and amazing to be among the 32 best teams in the continent in this tournament. We created a surprise by winning the title and perhaps we can cause another surprise by winning the Champions League.

"Many people are wondering how many goals we're going to concede, but events on the pitch will tell.''

Arsenal will have Vito Mannone in goal, with Wenger confident he has the "mental strength'' to put his Champions League nightmare at Olympiacos last season behind him.

Wojciech Szczesny suffered an ankle injury in the 6-1 Premier League win over Southampton at the weekend, which was his first game back since a rib problem.

Mannone had kept two clean sheets, at Stoke and Liverpool, deputising for the Poland international earlier this season - in marked contrast to his last European performance for the Gunners, when he produced a calamitous display in the defeat at Olympiakos last December.

A productive four-month loan spell at Championship side Hull built up the confidence of the 24-year-old once again, though, and Wenger has no issue with throwing Mannone straight into the action at Stade La Mosson.

Montpellier player to watch: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa enjoys a burgeoning reputation within the game and has the chance to both justify that hype and help it grow further with an assured display against an opponent he should know well.

Arsenal player to watch: A lack of goals (or, indeed, a single one) since his arrival at the north London club have unfairly overshadowed some of the good work Olivier Giroud has done for his side's cause in recent weeks. Back on an old stomping ground, maybe he can begin to rectify that.

Betting: We're going to put our necks on the line and tip Giroud to get that elusive goal, anytime in the contest, at 7/4 with bet365.

Prediction: 0-2.

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