MONTPELLIER, France, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Arsenal are approaching their opening Champions League game at struggling Montpellier on Tuesday with confidence but they expect the hosts to be extra motivated on their debut in the competition.
After a slow Premier League start, the Gunners won their last two games including a 2-0 victory at Liverpool and a 6-1 demolition of Southampton on Saturday.
“We look like a team who plays together, we are willing to do well. There is a great desire in the team,” Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger told a news conference.
France could be an ideal place to keep on building momentum since Arsenal are unbeaten in eight away matches against French sides and will face a squad with virtually no experience of the competition Arsenal are playing in for the 15th consecutive year.
“I really know how to hide my worries,” a relaxed and smiling Wenger said.
“We’ll be on alert tomorrow. Now, we just landed and we are very cool. But we take on this match very seriously because we know how important it is for us,” he added.
Montpellier, who claimed an unexpected first title last season, have been struggling this season, lying 16th in the Ligue 1 standings with only four points from five games.
“They kept the same squad, except Giroud, so I don’t see why they would be less strong this year,” Wenger said.
“They were a little unlucky in some games. The Champions League also occupies their heads a lot since the season starts,” he added.
“When you’re talking about a club experience, you mean that the club is able to focus on the next objective. When a club like Montpellier play in the Champions League, they tend to forget that the league is the main goal of a club.”
Wenger said he expected Montpellier to adopt an aggressive approach.
“We are used to playing away in the Champions League and these games always are real fights. We always expect our opponent to give everything and we are rarely disappointed,” he said.
“I know (Montpellier coach) Rene Girard very well. I fought some battles here and it always had been very aggressive, very ‘Mediterranean’ and very exciting.”
Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ed Osmond