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Arsenal attempt to master Montpellier

Arsenal FC have never managed to defeat French opponents at home in the UEFA Champions League and could do with improving that statistic for the visit of Montpellier Hérault SC.

Olivier Giroud swapped Montpellier for Arsenal in the summer
Olivier Giroud swapped Montpellier for Arsenal in the summer ©Getty Images

After their long unbeaten home run in the UEFA Champions League was ended by FC Schalke 04 on 24 October, Arsenal FC will be looking to return to winning ways with the visit of Montpellier Hérault SC, the side they beat 2-1 away at the start of the campaign.

• Younes Belhanda's penalty gave the tournament debutants a ninth-minute lead on matchday one but two goals in three minutes from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho turned the match around.

• Arsenal then defeated Olympiacos FC 3-1 before a 2-0 home reverse against Schalke preceded a 2-2 draw in Germany that left the London club second in Group B on seven points, one fewer than Schalke and one more than Olympiacos.

• Montpellier drew 2-2 in Germany on matchday two but that has proved their sole point after home (1-2) and away (1-3) losses to Olympiacos. That means the best the reigning French champions can hope for is third place, and to have a chance of claiming that they need to win both their remaining games.

Previous meetings
• The sides had not met before matchday one and the reunion gives Arsenal the chance to register their first win in the competition at home to French opponents.

• In four previous games Arsenal have lost two and drawn two, in stark contrast to their record in all European competitions away to French teams where they are unbeaten in nine games, winning six and drawing three. Arsenal's overall home record against French visitors is W3 D3 L2.

• Montpellier, Ligue 1 champions for the first time in 2011/12, had faced only one English side before this season. That came in the 1990/91 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final when they earned a 1-1 first-leg draw at Manchester United FC but went down 2-0 at home.

Match background
• The Schalke defeat was Arsenal's first against non-English opposition in 45 home UEFA Champions League outings since a 3-0 defeat by FC Internazionale Milano at Highbury in September 2003.

• It was also their first in 17 home games in the competition, play-offs included, since a 3-1 reverse by Manchester United in the 2008/09 semi-finals.

• The Gunners are in the group stage for the 15th campaign in a row. In 2011/12 Arsène Wenger's side departed in the round of 16 for the second season running. It was the 12th successive time they had made it through the group and only the second campaign since 2006/07 that they had failed to reach the quarter-finals or better.

• Arsenal won four of their five home games in last season's competition, the exception a 0-0 draw with Olympique de Marseille on matchday four. They had victories over Udinese Calcio in the play-off round, Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund in the group stage and AC Milan (3-0) in the round of 16 second leg, bowing out having lost 4-0 in Italy.

Team ties
• Olivier Giroud spent two seasons at Montpellier, scoring 33 goals in 73 Ligue 1 appearances before joining Arsenal during the summer. The French international, Ligue 1's joint leading scorer last season with 21 goals, had arrived at La Mosson from Tours FC having also played for Grenoble Foot 38 and FC Istres.

• Wenger faced René 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 in FC Girondins de Bordeaux's 2-1 win in 1980.

• Bacary Sagna (AJ Auxerre 2004–2007), Laurent Koscielny (EA Guingamp 2004–2007, Tours FC 2007–2009, FC Lorient 2009/10), Sébastien Squillaci (AC Ajaccio 2000–2002, AS Monaco FC 2002–2006, Olympique Lyonnais 2006–2008), Gervinho (Le Mans FC 2007–2009, LOSC Lille 2009–2011), Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux 2002–2010) and Mikel Arteta (Paris Saint-German FC 2001–2002) all played in the French league before joining Arsenal.

• John Utaka faced Arsenal four times while at Portsmouth FC between 2007 and 2011. Portsmouth suffered three defeats, scoring two goals and conceding ten; the other game ended scoreless.

• Chamakh and Belhanda are team-mates in the Morocco national team.

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