In-form Arsenal face Marseille on Wednesday wary of the need to hit the ground running in what was just about the toughest Champions League group they could have been given.
The Gunners have won their last five matches in all competitions, and sit in a lofty position at the top of the Premier League after Saturday’s 3-1 win at Sunderland.
That sequence of results, combined with the feel-good factor generated by the arrival of record signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, ensures that confidence is high in Arsene Wenger’s squad just now, even if they continue to be plagued by injuries.
Santi Cazorla was the latest man to arrive in the treatment room, with an ankle problem ruling him out for the next few weeks, and the Spain star joins the likes of Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the sidelines.
The increasingly pivotal Olivier Giroud should be fit, however, despite picking up a knee knock in the win at Sunderland, and Wenger certainly hopes so after admitting that the France striker “is the player at the moment that would be very difficult to replace.”
A return to a ground he knows well from his days with Montpellier would be a special occasion for Giroud, as Arsenal seek to extend their record of never having lost away to a French club.
These clubs met in the group stage two years ago, an Aaron Ramsey goal in injury time securing a 1-0 win for Arsenal at the Stade Velodrome before the clubs drew 0-0 in London.