Arsenal Vs Ludogorets Razgrad – Champions League Preview

It seems that Arsenal matches are akin to buses – you wait an age for one, and then a gaggle of them turn up all at once.

Our 3-2 victory over Swansea in the past weekend saw the winning run extended to six games in all competitions – and our only loss in the last seven months is our unlucky 4-3 opening day defeat to Liverpool.

Form to please even the most diehard of negative fans, and this match against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad is the first of a Champions League double with the two sides. Maximum points from both fixtures would see the Gunners close to a guaranteed Last16 spot.

With five goals already this season, Theo Walcott has already matched his last seasons tally, and on the form he is enjoying, the England wideman is surely one of the first names on the teamsheet. 

There will more than likely be changes in this game, with Middlesborough up next in the Premier League representing three games in just seven days. Rotation will be key to surviving the gruelling schedule, and with our squad in rude health, it could be the opportunity some players have been looking for.

David Ospina will predictably be recalled in his role as ‘cup keeper,’ and in terms of the defence, Nacho Monreal may be rested after a difficult time in the win over Swansea – Keiran Gibbs stands by to fill in.

Granit Xhaka’s controversial red card may mean he plays this game as he will be suspended for the Premiership game against ‘Boro, or alternatively, Wenger may opt for the fit-again Coquelin to partner Santi Cazorla to induce a rhythm between the pair as the Swiss player sits out three games. 

Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are nearing full match fitness, but again will miss out according to Wenger in his pre-match press conference. Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker are still injured.

What of Lucas Perez and Mohamed Elneny? Both will be champing at the bit to get some minutes under their belts, and with the games coming thick and fast, both will surely get some pitch-time – but will we see them in this game?

The biggest decision surely must be whether to play Alexis or not. Keeping the keen Chilean on the sidelines doesn’t seem to be the easiest task – and seeing as he has been involved in our last four goals (three assists and one goal), he is a vital cog in our lethal attack. However, a period of recuperation so he can prepare for the Premier League game against ‘Boro may be just what the doctor ordered. 

Only Wenger knows who he will pick, but he will have to pick a strong side – Ludogorets are no pushover. 

The Bulgarians may have never won an away Champions League game, but Arsene will be keen to ensure Arsenal will not be their first scalp. Our home record does bode well though, with five clean sheets in the last eight European games meaning that our concentration has not been purely on attack.

Every game that crops up is a chance for a player to establish himself, but also an opportunity to keep the confidence flowing with another win. 

Three points in this game would give us a great chance to finally claim top spot in the group – and hopefully avoid a tough draw in the round of 16. 

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal. 

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