Morning to you all, as we bask in the glory of Southampton and look forward to our midweek clash with Montpellier. Things are still on the up, as we welcome a new challenge this Tuesday squaring off against the French champions, who currently look in disarray.
It’ll be a sapid return for Giroud, as he makes his return to MHSC after his transfer during the Euros. I truly hope he scores, and I’m not saying that for the sake of a cliché. Giroud genuinely needs a goal, and coming off the bench for a 15 minute doesn’t seem to be working. He knows the Montpellier defense better than anyone, so I’m sure he’ll prove an asset far too valuable to leave out. When asked about his trip back to La Paillade. Olivier said this:
“To return to Montpellier is very special because I spent two very happy years there which were fantastic,” Giroud said. “Montpellier is a family club and I left a lot of friends behind – everybody who works at the club and the players.
“I spent a beautiful, wonderful season there last year when we were champions and won the title. It was a fantastic achievement for Montpellier to win the French championship and there was a lot of emotion when we won.”
The Curious Case of Olivier Giroud really isn’t so curious when you think about it. Both his former team and league are the opposite to what the Arsenal and the EPL are in terms of style and expectations. If you don’t hit the ground running in England, you’ll never hear the end of it. In contrast, French fans are generally more patient in their praise or lambasting of a player. It’s not something anybody should be worried about, I always say the biggest and best presents take the longest to open. Should he find himself on the score sheet, I have a feeling it’ll spark him into the form that caught Arsène’s eye in the first place.
“I want to score in every match, but if I score against Montpellier I will keep the celebration small,” he said. “That is normal for anybody, for the club and Montpellier fans. It will be out of my respect to my old club.”
The most important thing for Giroud is service, which he hasn’t been getting. His power in the air hasn’t been exploited correctly as of yet, so hopefully our game plan will be altered to suit him, namely in our frequency to send crosses in the box. There are plenty of good crossers in our squad, so there are no excuses to use the flanks effectively.
Enough of Giroud, as Arsène is left with the tough task of squad selection: who to drop, who to rest, who to move and so on. We’ll need our key players rested for Manchester City, so a reshuffle in midfield particularly would probably be a good thing. I doubt we’ll see much change, but if Arsène is willing to take some risks, I hope our lineup ends up looking something like this.
I’m all for change and rotation, mostly to see how some of our untested partnerships can cope during a match where the football will be hard and fast. In order for us to keep a clean sheet, we’ll need Theo and Arshavin to drop back and help their corresponding, something which they both seem to hate. However, should the boss have a way with words, they’ll do as they’re told. Right now, they both know that starting places aren’t guaranteed as of yet, as our final team sheet is still up in the air. Everybody who steps out on the pitch knows they will need to impress in order to be kept in contention to start, and this can only mean good things for our performance. If Arsène chooses not to change much, that’s fine, but we should take the opportunity to explore our strength in-depth.
Up front in this lineup sees Chamakh join Giroud to form a strike partnership that could be more effective than it seems. Their strengths and weaknesses dovetail neatly. meaning that we should see a cohesion previously lost upon our front three. Chamakh is good at holding up the ball to bring attacking midfielders into play, and is good in the air. He lacks the finishing prowess of Giroud, which is mostly down to form, but nonetheless they are two very different players that are thought to be of the same mould. Their various attributes in tandem could prove too much for a currently shaky Montpellier defense, not to mention the three attacking mids behind them. Arshavin on the left and Cazorla on in the centre could make a deadly pivot very similar to that of Lukas Podolski and Gervinho against the Saints. Walcott’s pace down the right combined with the remaining three mids’ ability to pick a long pass gives us an explosive option down the right, as well as the perfect outlet to get crosses in the box.
At the back, I hope we remain unchanged. Koscielny could come off the bench along with Podolski and Gervinho to shake things up in the second half, but Mertesacker and Vermaelen seem to have struck up a fine partnership as it stands, so there isn’t much use in changing in unless we have to. Jenkinson remains at right back, as Bacary Sagna has yet to resume training with the first team and Kieran Gibbs seems to be the favorite over André Santos for one reason or another.
I hope we don’t lose our focus and become overly confident before this match, but some celebration is certainly well deserved before the trip to France. Perhaps we should all take turns rubbing Steve Bould’s head?
A more detailed match preview coming tomorrow morning, so stick around for that.