The 3 – 2 victory over Swansea on Saturday made it 6 wins in a row for Arsenal in the English Premier League. We are on a great run and we go into the Champions League game tomorrow brimming with confidence at home against Bulgarian Champions Ludogorets Razgrad. Arsenal currently top Group A only in Alphabetical order with 4 points; same with 2nd placed Paris St. Germain with similar stats
- This is the first competitive meeting between Arsenal and Ludogorets.
- It’s also the first time Arsenal are facing Bulgarian opposition, in all competitions.
- Liverpool are the only previous English club to face Ludogorets; it was in the 2014/15 Champions League group stages. The Bulgarian side lost 2-1 at Anfield and drew 2-2 in Sofia.
- CSKA Sofia are the only Bulgarian club to win an away game against English opposition in the European Cup/Champions League; it was in October 1980 against Nottingham Forest (1-0). Since then, clubs from Bulgaria have lost their four visits to England in this competition.
- Ludogorets have only recorded one win in their eight previous Champions League matches (D2 L5); their sole victory coming at home against Basel in October 2014 (1-0). It’s also their only clean sheet in the competition.
- Meanwhile, Ludogorets have won none of their four away games in the Champions League (D1 L3).
- Arsenal have lost just three of their last 39 home games in the Champions League group stages, winning 30 and drawing six.
- Arsenal have found the net at least twice in their last eight Champions League group games at the Emirates, keeping five clean sheets in that run. Arsenal haven’t remained unbeaten in their first three Champions League group games since 2011/12.
- All of the last four goals converted by Arsenal have seen the direct involvement of Alexis Sanchez (three assists and one scored).
- In fact, the last five at home by Arsenal have also seen Alexis directly involved (two scored and three assists).
(Stats courtesy of Stats Zone)
Arsenal have no new injury concerns. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud returned to full training today and won’t be involved tomorrow. Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck remain long term absentees.
Ludogorets have no injury concerns ahead of this game.
HOW WILL BOTH TEAMS LINE UP
I expect Arsenal to keep the same winning shape as in the last 4 weeks. I expect one or two changes to the line up though considering that some players have not rested since returning from international break. However, the spine of the team must be retained. Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny should start, Santi Cazorla should retain his place alongside Granit Xhaka or Francis Coquelin. The frontline should remain the same with Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott. Where I expect changes will be Ospina replacing Cech and Gibbs given an opportunity over Monreal who looks a little bit out of sorts at the moment.
Mesut Ozil had an injury scare with Germany and although he played against Swansea, I will suggest that he be rested in this game with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting and Iwobi playing the No.10 role. Conversely, we can start Elneny at defensive midfield and push Cazorla to No. 10.
Ludogorets have 7 Brazilians in their squad and their all Brazilian attack should be watched. In Jonathan Cafu, Wanderson and Marcelino, they have 3 attackers who will look to break on the counter at the slightest opportunity.
This is a must win game for us considering the fact that we have to finish top of the group to enhance our prospect of going far. The earlier we qualify, the better. The Ludogorets double header presents a perfect opportunity to do that. I expect us to start on the front foot and create chances early on.
Alexis Sanchez will be looking to grab a few goals after drawing blanks in the last 3 games. Theo Walcott is on fire and that should continue. I expect Ludogorets to defend deep and try to counter attack. Cafu has scored 5 goals in the last 6 games, so, he is their most dangerous player. I believe we will prove too much for Ludogorets and I expect a comfortable win.
I predict a 4-0 win for Arsenal