Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our MatchDay Show guest and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal took on Montpellier in the Champions League on Wednesday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck and Daniel Cowan of North London Is Red.
DAN ROEBUCK, PRESENTER
Job done. Arsenal are in the last 16 for the 13 consecutive year and when you think about how both Manchester clubs and Chelsea have struggled this season or last season, you realise just how admirable the Gunners' record is. They didn't start well on Wednesday, indeed they could have fallen behind in the first half thanks to some sloppy passing and hesitation at the back. But the second half was a different story. Montpellier's threat was stifled and their former striker Olivier Giroud made the difference with two excellent assists, finished off expertly by Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski. It's good to see Arsenal sharing the goals around this season - long may it continue.
Arsenal have visibly lacked confidence in recent weeks but that emphatic win in the north London derby should ensure they are full of life in the Champions League on Wednesday night. The likes of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, below-par for much of November, were back to their best against Tottenham and that is great news for Arsène Wenger. Montpellier have some decent players - Younes Belhanda is a stand-out threat - but Arsenal in full flow are so difficult to stop at Emirates Stadium and I think they'll get the result they need that could take them through with a game to spare. I expect Arsenal to win reasonably comfortably, perhaps 3-1, and I also expect the in-form Olivier Giroud to make a better impression than he did in the Group B opener against his former club.
DANIEL COWAN, NORTH LONDON IS RED
Overall I think this was the comfortable win predicted as Montpellier rarely troubled our defence and Szczesny had very little to do all night. We had a slow first half and although we threatened we didn’t look to have the composure to score. That changed in the second half as we found our rhythm and moved the ball quicker to great effect. We have now secured our 13th consecutive season in the knockout stages of the Champions League which is no easy feat.
Jack Wilshere broke the deadlock to the relief of himself, the management, the team and the fans. Once his goal went in I felt qualification was secured. Giroud didn’t have the game he probably hoped to have but his link-up play was superb once again. His flick-on for Jack was perfectly cushioned although I feel that Vermaelen should take most of the plaudits for setting up that goal. The captain's jinking move and deft right-footed cross for the pre-assist had shades of Song v Dortmund. Not bad for a left-footed centre back playing out of position.
The second goal was truly sensational in both pass and finish. Giroud, who some have falsely labelled as just an aerial threat, showed his ball skills with a delightful chip over the top into the path of the on-running Podolski who smashed an astonishing volley into the roof of the net. We’ve had periods where our defence has been solid but our attack hasn’t connected and vice versa. We’re now starting to see it all come together and going into what is always a busy and crucial Christmas period it couldn’t have come at a better time.
We go into this game with a great deal of confidence after Saturday's emphatic win and have a chance to secure our place in the knockout stages. A big win against good opposition always has huge psychological benefits and a second 5-2 against a decent Spurs side in nine months will do wonders. We are now starting to see the offensive cohesion the manager spoke of after Old Trafford and for me this has much to do with Giroud’s superb line-leading performances, goals and assists. Olivier is now one of the most effective strikers in the league in terms of goals per minutes played and he goes into this game in top form. All players want to put in a good show against their old club and Olivier is no different. He’ll be desperate to get on the scoresheet and Cazorla's rejuvenation should aid this.
After a few quiet performances, Arteta and Podolski seem to be regaining form which will be crucial as Arteta will have his hands full with Belhanda, while whoever plays left back will need Podolski to be at his supportive best. Theo has been absolutely flying recently and I think we'll miss his pace and movement against a team who may be lacking in confidence. Montpellier haven’t won a match this month so this game is coming at just the right time. If our attacking players put on a performance I’m certain we’ll make comfortable work of sailing into the knockout rounds.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband LtdCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Nov 2012