Group A of the UEFA Champions League wasn't particularly impressive; Group B isn't either. Arsenal are one of the weakest Pot One teams, but instead of getting paired up with a strong set of lower seeds, they've mostly wound up with a whole lot of 'meh'. Schalke, Olympiacos and Montpellier aren't bad sides -- there aren't really poor teams in this competition -- but none of them have the firepower to unseat the Gunners at the top of the group.
Arsenal never seem to have a problem with getting out of the group stages and it's difficult to see them struggling here. Although they're no longer serious threats for the title in the English Premier League, they're still a strong team, with the losses of Robin van Persie and Alex Song offset by the acquisitions of Santi Cazorla from Malaga as well as both Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. Expect them to cruise through this one.
Going Through: Schalke 04
Schalke were semifinalists in this competition just two years ago, but nobody's expecting them to go that far this time around. They do have the group's top striker in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but that's all that really separates them from the likes of Olypiacos and Montpellier. Also, Teemu Pukki has a cool name. Cool names are important.
Europa League Bound: Olympiacos
Olympiacos made some noise in the group stages last season before eventually finishing third, and that's probably about right this time. The departure of their best player, Kevin Miralles, to Everton makes it difficult to see the Greeks in the knockouts this year.
Dead Last: Montpellier
Montpellier were surprise Ligue 1 champions last season, but the quality of their squad doesn't suggest a repeat. Having lost Giroud to Arsenal (storyline!), their squad no longer has the sort of cutting edge that they'd like. It's difficult to see them anything but fourth. They will console themselves with the 'photos' section of John Utaka's website.
Best Player: Santi Cazorla
Arsenal's best buy of the summer was Santi Cazorla, picked up for relatively cheap from struggling Malaga. Perhaps the best player in La Liga who wasn't on one of the top two sides, Cazorla is an intelligent, incisive passer who can rule the roost in attacking midfield. He's already settled into this Arsenal side, and expect him to tear the other defences in this group apart.
Emerging Star: Younes Belhanda
The 22-year-old Morrocan was instrumental in Montpellier's implausible run to the Ligue 1 title, grabbing 13 goals and five assists in the 2011/12 season. After a summer of having his name thrown around in transfer rumours, it looks like he'll be staying in France, and any team up against him has to be very wary of his playmaking abilities.
Must-Watch Game: Montpellier Vs. Arsenal
Just how much stuff is Giroud going to get thrown at him in Montpellier? Enquiring minds wish to know! Also, with both teams espousing a fun attack-first philosophy and Montpellier having the advantage in France, this could end up as something of a shootout.