Montpellier vs. Arsenal Review & Match RatingsBy: Lachlan | September 20th, 2012
Two goals in two minutes from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho was enough to cancel out an early penalty scored by Montpellier and a decent second half performance from the home side to bring home all three points from Montpellier.
I didn’t really plan on writing a review originally, so I didn’t really organise my thoughts on the game too well, but I’ll have a crack at doing a recap.
Arsene fielded a team very different from the one I picked, and went with a team that was very similar to the one that started against Southampton on Saturday. The only changes were that Mannone started in goals after a Szczesny injury, and Giroud and Diaby came in for AOC and Coquelin respectively.
The game started fairly slowly, with the only real point of interest being an early booking for Diaby that hamstrung him for the rest of the match. However, in the ninth minute, Vermaelen made a critical area when he went to ground and took Belhanda with him on the edge of the box with Belhanda’s back to goal. There was no real need I guess, and it was unlucky in a lot of ways, but shit happens, and Belhanda himself stepped up to take the penalty. The little shit chipped Mannone (who did pretty well and almost got there) to put the home side up early.
Shortly afterwards we were once again on level terms when some good work from Diaby and then Cazorla led to the ball ending up with Giroud at the top of the box who managed to feed it through to Podolski who cooly sent it past the keeper into the back of the net.
Two minutes later we were in front when Jenkinson sent a low cross through the six yard box that Gervinho was able to send home. 2-1.
For the rest of the half I can’t remember much else happening. Giroud took on a pretty tough volley, which went wide, and Belhanda and Yanga-Mbiwa earned a booking each. At half time we had had more possession, and they had had more shots on goal. I feel as if the first half result wasn’t unfair, and our lead was well earned, and their goal was not well earned.
The second half almost started with a complete disaster that should have resulted in the scores being level. Diaby was caught in possession in our box, and Cabella (who was probably the best player of the match for me) shot off target. A very lucky break.
Later in the half Steve Bould pulled Giroud off and he was replaced with Ramsey who was tasked with helping to sure up the midfield. However, not long afterwards Belhanda was given the chance of the match after some very skilful play that left Mertesacker on his ass and an open goal bar Mannone. However, Belhanda failed to maintain composure and sent it straight onto the chest of the Don.
Most of the rest of the game Arsenal were really trying to run down the clock. Very late in the game Walcott and Coquelin came on for Podolski and Cazorla respectively, and despite Montpellier desperately pushing for a late equaliser, we managed to hold off to take the points home. I felt as if it was a decent performance, but the team seemed a bit tired to me, the midfield especially, and I think it was very odd that we didn’t see more rotation or some earlier subs given this fact. It makes me wonder whether the coaching staff have much faith in out backup players.
On a brighter note though, it seems as if we know what our team is going to look like. At least until Wilshere, Sagna and/or Rosicky return from injury. It is good to see that the manager is able to pick a team and have them play almost the same lineup week after week. I hope this win has been enough of a confidence boost, especially compared to the demoralising defeat that City experienced, and that the players are able to recover well for the weekend.
I’ll do my best here, but it is a first time for me.
Mannone – 7: It was sort of hard to give a rating here. He didn’t make any errors, but the whole not letting a goal thing in had more to do with Montpellier’s finishing than his keeping.
Gibbs – 6.5: A solid performance, but I felt like a few times we were hit in the counter on his side by Cabella, and that he wasn’t in a good position to defend against this.
Vermalen – 6: A decent performance at the back, and other than the penalty he gave away (which was a pretty clear penalty to me) was not really caught out. Managed to deal with all of the long balls lobbed over that I can think of. If not for the penalty I would be giving him a rating more like Mertesacker’s.
Mertesacker – 7.5: Mertesakcer has been a rock so far this season, and whilst he wasn’t quite a rock in this game, he was certainly very good. He won most (if not all) of his aerial duels, and kept pressure on to prevent quality shots being taken. I could see why someone might say that he should have tackled or blocked for Belhanda’s goal, but the bottom line is that it was a great bit of skill by Belhanda, and his pressure likely contributed to his poor finish.
Jenkinson – 7: Certainly plays a lot better than his original transfer fee (and probably his salary too) would suggest. Worked very well with Gervinho early in the match, and I felt like he kept Montpellier fairly under control on his side of the pitch. Obviously he contributed an assist as well with a good cross, a part of his game which has always been pretty good.
Arteta – 7: A pretty quiet game for Arteta. Kept things under control and missed very few passes, but nothing outstanding for him. I have to say I still live in fear for those days when he isn’t on the pitch though.
Diaby – 6: Not the best of games from our man of glass. He was caught with the ball a few times and was probably held back off the ball by his early booking. Luckily for him, and the rest of the team, when he was dispossessed early in the second half there was not an equalising goal.
Cazorla – 7: Why didn’t we sign this guy 12 months ago? He is what we missed last season, and a great addition to the midfield. Played pretty well in the game, but maybe began to tire in the second half and his impact became less and less.
Gervinho – 7.5: Worked pretty well with Jenkinson and Cazorla, and was often working himself into dangerous areas.
Podolski – 8 – MOTM: What can I say? I am a man who is easily swayed by work rate, and this guy sure does work. I have been pleasantly surprised by Podolski. I was expecting a player who worked hard and knew how to win, but I wasn’t expecting a player to slot straight into our team and perform as one of the best players in the league so quickly. Looking like a very good signing at the moment. Most people have been talking about Cazorla being the signing of the summer, but Podolski is looking like a challenger for the title at the moment.
Giroud – 7: How could a rating can I give a striker that doesn’t score? I decided given the fact that he produced an assist and wasn’t given much in the way of service, that he probably deserved it. Whilst he hasn’t scored yet, he has been pretty valuable and played an important role in a few of our goals so far this season. Hopefully he can start to score some goals as his good looks can only get him so far.
We should have a preview up before the game against City for you to have a read of. I hope you guys are as nervous as I am!