It was 6-0 last time at the Emirates. As easy as it gets but Ludogorets will want to revenge that humiliation of 2 weeks ago at home to Arsenal on Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League.
- The last game was the first meeting between both sides and the first time for Arsenal against Bulgarian opposition.
- Arsenal won 6-0 on Matchday 3 and currently top Group A with 7 points; same as 2nd placed Paris St. Germain.
- Arsenal will seal qualification for the round of 16 with a win in Bulgaria but a win for Ludogorets will revive their faltering Champions League Campaign.
- Ludogorets have never beaten English opposition in European competition; the Bulgarian side lost 2-1 at Anfield to Liverpool and then drew 2-2 against them in Sofia during the 2014/15 group stages (as well as the 6-0 defeat versus Arsenal in the previous matchday).
- Ludogorets have only recorded one win in their nine previous Champions League matches (D2 L6); their sole victory coming at home against Basel in October 2014 (1-0). It’s also their only clean sheet in the competition.
Arsenal have remained unbeaten in their first three Champions League group games for the first time since the 2011/12 campaign.
- The Bulgarian side (D2 L3) have only managed to claim one victory across their last six home games in European competition (excluding qualifiers).
- Ludogorets have always scored at home in the Champions League (4 games).
- None of Arsenal’s last 39 away games in the Champions League have ended goalless. The last 0-0 was at Slavia Prague in November 2007.
- The last time an English team lost an away game against a Bulgarian side was in March 1982, when CSKA Sofia beat Liverpool in the European Cup quarter finals (2-0). Since then, English teams have won nine of their 12 trips to Bulgaria (D3) in all competitions without ever failing to score.
- Mesut Ozil scored a hat-trick when these sides met in the previous matchday; the first German to do so in the Champions League since March 2012 (Mario Gomez recorded four in a game versus Basel).
- That hat-trick was Ozil’s first for Arsenal in any competition; the fifth player to score one in the Champions League for the Gunners.
- Theo Walcott has scored three Champions League goals this season, already his best return in a single season in the competition.
Ludogorets have no fresh injury worries going into this game. They play an expansive style of football and caused us a lot of problems in the first half at the Emirates, save for their wasteful finishing. They will rely on their Brazilian danger man Jonathan Cafu to lead the attack well this time with able support from Wanderson and Marcelino.
Arsenal will make some enforced changes for the game with Hector Bellerin joining Theo Walcott, Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla on the sidelines through injury. David Ospina should continue his champions league exploits in goal; Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs will get chances to impress as lateral defenders either side of ”Kostafi”.
Aaron Ramsey had a positive impact from the bench in the weekend win over Sunderland and could start this game. Francis Coquelin will be rested. Granit Xhaka or Mohamed Elneny will partner Ramsey or all 3 could start with Ramsey playing from the right wing ahead of the consistently inconsistent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wenger could be tempted to start Olivier Giroud as striker after a match winning display against Sunderland with Alexis Sanchez starting from the left wing . Conversely, he could retain Alexis at Centre forward and start Alex Iwobi who looks jaded and overplayed recently.
This game won’t be easy but the manner in which Arsenal dispatched Sunderland over the weekend shows the strength in depth in the team. Ludogorets will be stronger at home and will want to avenge the disgrace at the Emirates. We must score early to calm nerves and put the game to bed so that we can rest some key players for the all important North London Derby against Tottenham this weekend. This game will be tighter than the first leg but i believe we will win 1-3.