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Montpellier eager to unsettle Arsenal

Coach René Girard sees no reason why Montpellier Hérault SC cannot overcome a slow start to the season and "cause another surprise" against Arsenal FC in Group B.

René Girard puts Montpellier through their paces ahead of the Arsenal game
René Girard puts Montpellier through their paces ahead of the Arsenal game ©Getty Images

French champions Montpellier Hérault SC face an early test of their UEFA Champions League credentials when high-flying English side Arsenal FC visit the Stade de la Mosson, hoping to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Coach René Girard
We have to be aware of the difficulties we have had, but it's not by crying but by working that we'll get out of trouble. Many of the players haven't been in this competition before. 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.

Weekend result
Friday: Stade de Reims Champagne 3-1 Montpellier (Diego 38, Glombard 70, Courtet 86; Cabella 55)
Jourdren, Bocaly, Hilton, Bedimo; Congré, Stambouli, Estrada, Belhanda, Aït-Fana (Mounier 74); Utaka (Camara 26), Herrera (Cabella 55).

• René Girard left his French international centre-back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa on the bench against Reims.

• Montpellier have won just once in their opening five Ligue 1 outings.

Team news
John Utaka is sidelined with a thigh injury he picked up in the first half of Montpellier's 3-1 defeat by Reims on Friday. Jamel Saïhi is fit again after he missed three league matches with a chest infection.

Manager Arsène Wenger
I have made some changes, but I want to maintain a degree of continuity for this match. I think that Montpellier have kept the same group of players – they have just been unlucky in certain matches and perhaps they were waiting for the Champions League.

It is possible that they could cut loose against us, but that is the type of match you get used to in the Champions League. I'm frustrated not to be on the bench because that is where I am happiest, but we have discussed the different scenarios and will see what happens tomorrow. Arsenal have never lost to a French team in France and we will try to maintain that run tomorrow.

Weekend result
Friday: Arsenal 6-1 Southampton FC (Jos Hooiveld og 11, Podolski 31, Gervinho 35, 71, Clyne og 37, Walcott 88; Fox 45)
Szczęsny; Jenkinson, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin (Ramsey 67); Gervinho (Walcott 74), Podolski (Giroud 74)

• Arsenal maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an emphatic win against Southampton. The Gunners conceded their first goal of the campaign, though, as Daniel Fox capitalised on a Wojciech Szczęsny error.

Team news
Vito Mannone will continue in goal after Szczęsny was ruled out with an ankle injury. It is the Italian's third match of the season and he kept clean sheets in his previous two starts in the Premier League, against Liverpool FC and Stoke City FC.

Match fact
Wenger faced Girard twice in Ligue 1 during his time as a defender with RC Strasbourg. Girard played for Nîmes Olympique SC in 1979 against Wenger, the game ending goalless, and for FC Girondins de Bordeaux in 1980 with Bordeaux winning 2-1.

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