Arsenal to gun down Montpellier
Our Ben Coley says Arsenal can extend their winning run by beating an out-of-sorts Montpellier side on Tuesday night.
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3pts Arsenal to beat Montpellier at 5/4 (General).
Champions League football returns in earnest on Tuesday night where the pick of the ties sees Real Madrid host Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho's side suffered their second defeat of the season on Saturday when offering little threat at Sevilla, but a return to the Bernabeu should see them in a better light and they're probably worth odds-on quotes.
Since the Portuguese took over, they've played 12 home games in the Champions League and have won 11 of them, including against the likes of Bayern Munich and AC Milan.
Indeed, their only defeat came at the hands of Barcelona, when Pepe's sending-off paved the way for a late brace from Lionel Messi to give Barca what would prove to be an unassailable first-leg advantage.
In contrast, City's three Champions League away days show defeats at Napoli and Bayern along with victory at Villarreal, who were at the beginning of a road which ended in elimination from the competition and relegation from La Liga.
So, history dictates that Madrid should be considered the most likely winners, and although Real's domestic form needs improving upon, the same could be said of City's efforts in the Premier League.
Remember, they were very close to an embarrassing reverse in their opening fixture against Southampton, who've failed to register a point since, before being flattered by a 2-2 draw at a Liverpool side who've hardly looked world-beaters.
Saturday saw City continue their trend of drawing at Stoke and, even at 9/2, they make little appeal here. Betfred's 5/4 about them avoiding defeat isn't bad, but on balance too much has to be taken on trust here and although the footballing spectacle of the night, this game provides few decent betting opportunities.
Instead, we'll head to France and back Arsenal to continue their solid start to the season by beating Montpellier.
Last season's shock Ligue 1 winners lost their star man to the Gunners this summer, and although Olivier Giroud hasn't yet produced the sort of form that earned him a France call-up for Arsene Wenger's side, his departure has hit Montpellier hard.
So far this season they've managed just one victory, which came against a Sochaux outfit who narrowly escaped relegation last term and had lost each of their previous three fixtures this time around.
On Saturday, Montpellier were stuffed 3-1 by newly-promoted Stade de Reims, and their last attempt at European competition saw them knocked out in the Europa League qualifying stage by Hungarian outfit Gyori ETO.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have a fine European pedigree. Under Wenger, they've yet to be eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League, and that's down to their performances both at home and on the road.
Since 2005, Arsenal have won six of their seven opening away group games, plus all five away qualifiers prior to the competition-proper, with a draw at Dinamo Kiev their only failure to do the business on their first away foray.
Traditionally, they've found it hard to maintain that sort of level throughout the competition, but more often than not a pair of opening wins has had them firmly on track for qualification which has allowed Wenger to rotate heavily away from home.
That was certainly the case last term, when Marouane Chamakh led the line on his own as Arsenal lost 3-1 at Olympiacos, but we can expect a very strong starting line-up here and it should be good enough to take care of business.
The summer sale of Robin van Persie looks less of an issue after back-to-back wins against Liverpool and Southampton, especially given that Lukas Podolski found the net in both games.
Steve Bould's appointment as assistant manager is surely responsible for a record of one goal conceded so far, and in truth it was only an uncharacteristic error from Wojciech Szczesny that saw their blemish-free start ended on Saturday.
Santi Cazorla has drawn deserved superlatives from all those who have watched him play and with Abou Diaby set to return - he was exceptional at Liverpool - there are options at Wenger's disposal in midfield.
Even much-maligned Gervinho will be confident after his brace against Southampton, Theo Walcott should be back at full health after illness ruled him out of England's game last week - he came on and scored on Saturday too - and this confident Arsenal side have more class among their ranks than the hosts.
Arsenal travel to Manchester City on Sunday but with a near five-day gap between fixtures it's unlikely to be a distraction, and at odds-against they're well worth backing to maintain the record they've established in this competition over the years.