Champions League

Arsenal form bodes well: Bould

2012-09-19 09:03
Steve Bould (AP)

Montpellier - Arsenal's assistant coach Steve Bould said his side's 2-1 win at Montpellier in the Champions League on Tuesday represented a promising start to a daunting run of fixtures.

First-half goals from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho enabled Arsenal to fight back after Younes Belhanda gave Montpellier an early lead at Stade de la Mosson, leaving the Gunners level on points with Schalke at the top of Group B.

After previous wins over Liverpool and Southampton, Arsenal now have three consecutive victories behind them, but the sequence of matches taking them into October could determine their objectives for the rest of the season.

Arsenal visit English champions Manchester City on Sunday and host European champions Chelsea on September 29, before returning to Champions League duty with a home game against Olympiakos on October 3.

Bould, who was deputising for the suspended Arsene Wenger in Montpellier, said that the way the visitors withstood a second-half surge from their hosts augured well for the forthcoming showdown with City.

"We'll go in there with a bit of confidence, and people have the belief that things are going well," he said.

"It'll be a proper test, but it's where we want to be and hopefully we'll come out the other side and say that we've done well again.

"We've had a decent start to the season. This keeps the run going, and not just for the Champions League. We've got some tough games coming up.

"We've got great spirit and that was evident tonight. Everyone was digging in, and things are looking OK."

Arsenal's evening had started badly when Younes Belhanda coolly chipped Vito Mannone from the penalty spot after Thomas Vermaelen conceded a penalty for a foul on the Moroccan playmaker.

However, goals in quick succession from Podolski and Gervinho meant that Arsenal needed only nine minutes to turn the game around, and Bould praised the sang-froid displayed by Podolski as he slotted home his 16th-minute equaliser.

"I've not seen many finishers as good as him, ever," said the former Arsenal centre-back.

"In training, it's right foot, left foot; it goes in at 100 miles an hour. He's just fabulous -- a good trainer, and a good boy. He's really added something this year."

A summer arrival from Cologne, Podolski has now scored three goals for his new employers.

Fellow new boy Olivier Giroud, in contrast, is still waiting for his first goal, but it was his instinctive touch that set up Podolski's equaliser and Bould lauded the Frenchman's performance against his former club.

"I thought he did a really good team job," he said.

"He works really hard for the team, and at set pieces he's fabulous. He had one chance, at the near post, but that was difficult. He's a really hard-working boy, and I'm sure the goals will come."

Montpellier's preparations for their first ever Champions League match had been far from ideal, the French champions having lost three and drawn one of their first five Ligue 1 matches.

However, in the second half they played with an air of self-belief that belied their domestic struggles, while Remy Cabella came desperately close to an equaliser with an audacious chip that came back off the crossbar.

"I'm aware of what the boys have done," said Montpellier coach Rene Girard.

"You can't be happy when you lose but there were lots of satisfactions. I think it could be a launchpad for our season.

"We caused problems for one of Europe's big teams. So there were lots of satisfactions, but it was a defeat, so it's always a bit annoying."

Montpellier host Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Friday, while their next assignment in the Champions League is a trip to Schalke at the start of October.

Read more on:    arsenal  |  champions league  |  soccer

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