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Montpellier HSC v. Arsenal: match thread

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Mike Hewitt - Getty Images
Montpellier HSC v. Arsenal
Tuesday 18 September 2012, 9:45pm CET/2:45pm ET/11:45am PT
Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Form (league): Montpellier: DLLWL / Arsenal: DDWW

Arsenal begin their 17th appearance in Europe's most prestigious event, the UEFA Champions League, tonight inside Montpellier's Stade de la Mosson, opposing a side celebrating their inaugural match in this competition. Montpellier have had a rough start to their 2012-13 Ligue 1 campaign, registering one win against three losses and a draw, however those results can be tossed aside as they welcome Arsenal and, with a bit more press focus, their former talisman and top goalscorer in Ligue 1 last season Olivier Giroud. While the attention is on the Giroud homecoming (along with his goalless start to his season), a few other plot lines exist.

After making his return to the pitch this past Saturday, Wojciech Szczesny has been ruled out for tonight's match after apparently re-aggravating his lingering ankle injury in warm-ups before the Southampton match, with Vito Mannone deputizing for the Polish international after starring in substitute roles against EPL opponents Sunderland and Stoke City. Good news is abound, though; the club gets a boost with Abou Diaby's return to the pitch after sitting out over the weekend due to a knock received while on international duty. Theo Walcott continues to be an option off the bench as opposed to starting for the club, as Gervinho gets the nod out wide to make way for Giroud's inclusion in the starting lineup. Lastly, it appears that management feels that it's better to left a best thing untouched, at least in regards to the back four; Per Mertesacker pipes Laurent Koscielny at center back tonight.

Oh, and there's that little thing about Arsene Wenger's three-match UEFA touchline ban beginning with tonight's match after speaking the truth and subsequently being oppressed by The Man because you know, goddamnit, sometimes the truth hurts his critical comments towards an official whose name I'm not even close to be bothered with looking up because he's not worthy of any further attention a UEFA official following a figure skating exhibition Champions League match versus AC Milan last season. This ban will see newly-appointed assistant Steve Bould assume the manager's role while Wenger watches from afar, presumably without a top-secret cell phone (or at least comfortably away from prying camera lenses).

Without further ado, here are your starting lineups and substitutes, courtesy of The Telegraph:

Montpellier (4-2-3-1): Jourdren; Bocaly, Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, Bedimo; Saihi, Estrada; Mounier, Belhanda, Cabella; Camara

Subs: Pionnier, Congre, Stambouli, Marveaux, Jeunechamp, Herrera, Ait-Fana

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Diaby; Podolski, Cazorla, Gervinho; Giroud

Subs: Shea, Koscielny, Santos, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott

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