Arsenal 2 - 0 Montpellier

Match info: Champions League - Group B at Emirates Stadium

Date: 21/11/2012 KO: 19:45 Ref: F Aydinus Att: 59,760

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Arsenal

Jack Wilshere 49
Lukas Podolski 63

2
vs
0

Montpellier


FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: November 22 2012, 0:40 GMT

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is relieved to have secured progression to the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare but pledged to field a full-strength team at Olympiacos in a bid to top the group.

Wenger to go all out for top spot

The Gunners dispatched French champions Montpellier with relative ease on Wednesday night at the Emirates Stadium, with Lukas Podolski firing in a superb volley after Jack Wilshere's first goal in two years.

The 2-0 victory combined with Schalke's late win over Olympiacos ensured Arsenal's progression to the last 16 with a trip to the Greek side yet to come.

The north Londoners sit second in Group B heading into the last round of fixtures and Wenger wants to wrest top spot off Huub Stevens' Schalke.

"We needed two good results - our result and the Schalke result - and we got both so obviously we're happy," the Frenchman said.

"I found Montpellier well organised, strong in their challenges and quite aggressive so for us it was a question of being patient, not making mistakes, using our experience and wait for a chances.

"The first half we had problems in the transitions to go from defence to attack and in the second half it was better.

"We moved the ball quicker, made more incisive runs and scored two goals.

"There was one for Wilshere, which I am pleased about because after such a long time out it is great to see him getting stronger and stronger. The second was fantastic by Podolski."

Arsenal are now through the group stages for the 13th season in succession -

feat of which Wenger is ''very proud'' and one he wants to cap with a victory at Olympiacos.

"We will play to win, to finish top of the group," he said.

"If you look at some groups, like the one with Dortmund and Real Madrid, you don't really know whether it is better to finish first or second.

"But overall statistically it is still better to finish top because you feel you've done your better if you finish top of the group.

"We will try to win at Olympiacos and Montpellier can beat Schalke at home. We will take a full-strength team."

One man that will not be involved in the final round of Champions League matches is Roberto Di Matteo after his sacking by Chelsea earlier on Wednesday.

The Italian led the Blues to victory in last year's competition and Wenger was surprised by both his departure and Rafael Benitez's appointment until the end of the season.

"I find it surprising and very sad, personally," Wenger said.

"I believe it is important on our side to show loyalty and Di Matteo has come in a difficult situation, won the Champions League, won the FA Cup.

"He has done well and he was not given any time at all this season so it is a complete surprise to me.

"[The appointment and deal] is a surprise as well because Rafael Benitez is a guy who has a record.

"He is a manager of stature and it is a surprise he is appointed for such a short time. I am surprised as well he accepted that."

Benitez's first game at the Chelsea helm will be Sunday's clash with Manchester City, which comes a day after Wenger takes his side to Aston Villa.

Montpellier counterpart Rene Girard's attention also returns to domestic action after a night in which his side were consigned to finish bottom of Group B on their debut season amongst Europe's elite.

"I think over the 90 minutes we played well but lacked a bit of consistency," manager Girard said.

"We were good in the first half in terms of aggression and forward runs, but we were just lacking something going forward.

"We particularly saw that in the second half and we began to physically struggle towards the end of the game.

"Perhaps it was one game too far for us this evening given the number of injuries and players we had missing.

"In terms of tonight, we gave everything we could and I was very happy with our attitude. But if we can't score goals, then it does of course become more difficult."


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