Montpellier 1 Arsenal 2

It may not have been the most classy of European nights, but an away win on Europe’s premier stage is what Arsene Wenger would have hoped for, and precisely what his side managed to deliver. Not that he was on hand mind, the Arsenal manager was serving the first of a three game ban for confronting the officials after last season’s Champions League match at home to AC Milan. Sitting in his lofted perch, Wenger saw Arsenal go a goal behind from a controversial penalty which Younes Belhanda converted Pirlo style. The Gunners hit back with goals from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho, both now netting in consecutive fixtures.

Arsenal had to endure some late Montpellier pressure with Remi Cabella threatening in particular, but marshalled from the dug out, Steve Bould ensured that the Gunners held firm to record a win their 15th consecutive Champions League campaign.

The home side have endured a wretched start to their Ligue 1 campaign, but reasoned Wenger that may have been due to Montpellier having had more than an eye on their debut at Europe’s top table. And within nine minutes the home side took the lead. Thomas Vermaelen conceded a needless penalty, with a challenge on Belhanda, who then got up to convert with some style.

Stung into action, Arsenal began to find their rhythm. Abou Diaby – who had been booked after only 21 seconds -and Santi Cazorla began to stroke the ball with ease. It was those two who combined before Olivier Giroud – facing his former club – fed Podolski who glanced up before placing his shot coolly past Geoffrey Jourdren on 16 minutes.

Now with their tails up, Wenger’s men took the lead two minutes later. Gervinho took the ball on the right, and having given his marker the slip, fed the advanced Carl Jenksinson. His low teasing cross was met first time by the Ivorian who continued his run and did the rest. At that juncture, it appeared just a matter of time before Arsenal would grab a third. The second half however proved to see the home side asking more questions of the visitors, and could easily have had another penalty after Diaby challenged Cabella.

Having seen a low shot fly past Vito Manonne’s upright in the first half, Cabella robbed Diaby deep in the Arsenal area, but hit wide. Mannonne was then grateful to see a lob hit the cross bar after Per Mertersacker headed out weakly. Belhanda managed to hit Mannone when it seemed easier to score, but as the home side pressed, Arsenal held firm for the win, and now look forward to hosting Olympiacos on 3rd October.