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Sep 17, 2012

Montpellier coach salutes Olivier Giroud

Rene Girard maintains Montpellier will always be grateful to Olivier Giroud for the part he played in getting them to the Champions League.

The France international finished tied for the scoring lead in Ligue 1 last season as Montpellier won the title for the first time in the club's history.

However, the 25-year-old moved to Arsenal in the summer in a 12 million pounds deal rather than try to spearhead Montpellier's maiden shot at Europe's elite competition.

The Montpellier manager, however, hopes the supporters will remember what Giroud has done for them, before focusing on lifting his side as they aim to recover from a poor start to the domestic season.

"Olivier Giroud only left good memories here," Girard said. "He was a very loyal player and man, who did very well for us last season to help win the title.

"I think the fans will welcome him very warmly, but not too much, maybe with just a little 'hi' and a wave."

Giroud accepts he may be in for a hot reception from some home fans when he returns to Stade de la Mosson on Tuesday night.

He has yet to score for his new club and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is aware of the added pressure Tuesday's fixture will bring.

"It can be positive, but it can be negative and it is never easy to handle," he said. "No matter what you do, the less time you give the player to think about it, the better it is."

Wenger said Monday he is not about to lose patience with Giroud.

"With forwards it is more a matter of cycle. Forwards sometimes go through a rough period, but maybe he just needs a goal to get out of this drought," the Gunners boss, speaking at Monday night's UEFA pre-match press conference in Montpellier, said.

"Also for forwards it is a little bit different in England. The game is different for two positions, especially for forwards and goalkeepers. It is a real shock for them because there is a lot more contact."

Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa remains close with his former teammate, and shared a joke while away during the recent international break.

"We talked about the game together and a bit about his drought in England," the defender said.

"He managed to do pretty well last season, and sometime you need time to adapt.

"However, I told him it will not be easy against us -- and also that he will not score here in Montpellier."

Yanga-Mbiwa sees no reason why the hosts should not be confident of a positive result against the Gunners, who are experienced European campaigners.

"The players are all really looking forward to testing ourselves in the Champions League -- it is a dream come true to be at this level," he said.

"We need to be ready and are at home, so why cant we win the first game?"

Girard remains positive heading into a first Champions League tie.

"Many of the players haven't been in this competition before. It's a way for the club and the players to grow," he said.

"It's very intense and amazing to be among the 32 best teams in the continent in this tournament. We created a surprise by winning the title and perhaps we can cause another surprise by winning the Champions League.

"Many people are wondering how many goals we're going to concede, but events on the pitch will tell."

Wenger, meanwhile, will watch from the stands Tuesday night as he serves the first of a three-match UEFA touchline ban, imposed after he confronted referee Damir Skomina in the wake of last season's Champions League defeat to AC Milan -- his third sanction in the space of a year.

Former Arsenal center half Steve Bould is set to take charge of the team, having become assistant manager this season following Pat Rice's retirement.

"Steve is doing his job very well," Wenger said.

"Don't forget that the basis of our team is a very offensive philosophy so sometimes, if we concede goals in the future, it will not be Steve Bould's fault.

"It will only be a consequence of the way we see football."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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