Olivier Giroud faced his former club as Arsenal opened their Champions League Group B campaign in Montpellier.
The France international has yet to score since his £12m move from the Ligue 1 winners, but was restored to the starting line-up by manager Arsene Wenger, who began a three-match touchline ban.
Vito Mannone deputised in goal for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, while Abou Diaby came back into midfield after recovering from a hip problem in the other change from Saturday's 6-1 mauling of Southampton.
Montpellier have struggled at the start of the new domestic season, losing three times already.
Defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa returned to captain the side.
Montpellier: Jourdren, Bocaly, Yanga M'Biwa, Hilton, Bedimo, Estrada, Saihi, Mounier, Belhanda, Cabella, Camara. Subs: Pionnier, Marveaux, Herrera, Congre, Ait-Fana, Stambouli, Jeunechamp.
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Shea, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)