OLIVIER GIROUD WILL make an emotional return to Montpellier as Arsenal start their Champions League campaign this evening.
The French striker impressed for the Ligue 1 champions last term before making the move to the English Premier League.
But he has taken time to settle at the Emirates Stadium, still goalless for the north Londoners heading into the Group B encounter at the Stade de la Mosson.
Arsenal enter the clash on the back of a 6-1 thrashing of newly promoted Southampton, an outing Giroud was axed for. Arsene Wenger admits Giroud, who has said he will not celebrate if he nets against his former club, is no certainty to start in France.
“I felt he was under a lot of pressure at the moment and sometimes it’s good to get a little breather,” the Arsenal manager said. ”I honestly don’t know what I will do against Montpellier in the Champions League this week.
“I just felt the time had come for him to not be under so much pressure.”
German forward Lukas Podolski has had no such problems settling, taking his tally for the league season to two goals with a stunning free-kick against Southampton.
In contrast to the unbeaten league start Arsenal have made to their campaign, Montpellier have struggled.
Rene Girard’s men have won just one of their first five matches this season, with their latest defeat a 3-1 loss to Reims on Friday.
Adding to their problems, Nigerian international John Utaka picked up a thigh injury and is in doubt for the meeting with Arsenal.
Germans in Greece
In the other Group B game, Schalke make the difficult trip to the Karaiskakis Stadium to take on Greek league champions Olympiacos.
Olympiacos have made a bright start to their title defence, winning all three of their opening games, while Schalke are also unbeaten to start the season.
Rafik Djebbour has filled the void left by Kevin Mirallas, who moved to Everton in July, netting four league goals.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looms as a huge threat for Olympiacos – the Dutchman has been prolific with the Bundesliga side since joining in August 2010.