By ESPNSTAR.com staff
Second-half goals from Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski sealed a 2-0 win for Arsenal over Montpellier in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
The win ensured the Gunners of at least second place in Group B but Arsene Wenger will want his side to fight for top spot ahead of Schalke when they travel to Olympiacos in the final game.
Meanwhile, Montpellier has had a dreadful campaign, only managing to collect a single point from five games.
Montpellier played with only one striker up-front and opted to protect its back-four with five men in midfield. It worked for the first 45 minutes of the game as Arsenal struggled to carve upon clear cut chances.
However, cream tends to rise to the top. Montpellier aren't a poor defensive team but like-for-like the Ligue 1 side are no match for Arsenal and their full-backs Bedimo (left) and Deplagne (right) were caught out on several occasions in the second half.
Their centre-back pairing of Congre and El Kaoutari were also a mixed bag with the former heavily involved in limiting Arsenal to mostly half-chances while the latter went missing for large periods of the game.
Jourdren - 6.5 | Bedimo - 6 | Congre - 6.5 | El Kaoutari - 5.5 | Deplagne - 6.5
Montpellier played a surprisingly conservative game against Arsenal despite knowing they had no chance of qualifying for the next round. They were content to crowd the midfield and try to keep possession while even at set-pieces they were careful not to throw too many men forward.
It is not surprising then to see that defensive midfielder Yanga-Mbiwa was the standout performer for Montpellier. He worked tirelessly for his team defensively and whenever a team-mate lost the ball, he was ready to make the challenge on an Arsenal player.
On the right, Cabella was a useful creative force, although not brilliant. He is a tricky customer when on the ball and managed to sucker Cazorla in for an ill-advised tackle which landed the Arsenal man a yellow card. On the opposite flank, Mounier was not as sharp. Oddly enough, Cabella was taken off instead of Mounier when Montpellier needed to chase the game.
The biggest disappointment in the Montpellier midfield, though, was Belhanda. He certainly wasn't the worst of the lot but he's actually a very good player and should have asked more questions of the Arsenal defence.
Yanga-Mbiwa - 7 | Estrada (Off 80') - 6 | Belhanda - 6.5 | Cabella (Off 69') - 6.5 | Mounier - 6
Montpellier's lone striker Charbonnier worked hard for his team without ever being a threat to Arsenal.
Charbonnier (Off 69') - 6
Martin (On 69') - 6 | Herrera (On 69') - 6 | Marveaux (On 80') - N/A
Arsenal started the game very sloppily in the first half and it was their defenders who were actually responsible for creating the most danger.
Arsenal's best chance of the half came when Vermaelen, played as a left-back, crossed superbly for Koscielny, who was free in the box, but the Arsenal centre-back slammed his header onto the frame of the goal.
For Arsenal's first goal, Vermaelen, again, did well to maintain possession on the left and cross for Giroud to head into the path of Wilshere in the second half to score.
On the right hand side, Sagna was his usual reliable self - alert to danger and deadly when he delivered early crosses into the box.
Szczesny - 6.5 | Sagna - 7 | Mertesacker - 7 | Koscielny - 7 | Vermaelen - 7.5
It was a game of two halves for Arsenal midfielder Wilshere. He was poor in the first 45 minutes, misplacing passes and generally looked below the pace.
However, the Englishman upped his game in the second half and within four minutes of the restart he got his goal. It was a clever finish as well, Wilshere lofted the ball high over the onrushing goalkeeper following Giroud's downward header.
Cazorla was Arsenal's other main creative outlet in midfield and played a key role in bringing Giroud more and more into the match. The French striker is poor when he has to come short to receive the ball and pass, but much more deadly when he is in the box feeding off quality balls from Cazorla.
Arteta - 7 | Wilshere - 7.5 | Cazorla (Off 84') - 7
Despite a slow start to the game, Giroud grew in confidence and showed why Arsene Wenger was willing to splash the cash on the striker in the summer. He can score goals as well as create chances in the box and against Montpellier he was responsible for both Arsenal's goals.
For the first, it was his header down which set up Wilshere to stab home from inside the box. The second goal was even better; he provided the perfect return ball for Podolski to volley in.
Podolski definitely also gets marked up for a fantastic finish from the left.
Oxlade-Chamberlain (Off 70') - 6.5 | Podolski - 7 | Giroud (Off 85') - 8
Ramsey (On 70') - 6 | Coquelin (On 84') - N/A | Gervinho (On 85') - N/A