Seven minutes of sheer brilliance at the Stadium of Light completely changed the mood of Arsenal supporters heading into Tuesday’s Champions League fixture. A trip to Bulgaria to take on Ludogorets should offer another opportunity to smile, but they must fight the urge of complacency.
The Bulgarian club will want to make a significant improvement from their last meeting with Arsenal. In order to do that, they will need to tighten things up at the back, but keeping the Gunners off the scoresheet will be a tall task.
Ludogorets will know that while a victory could be extremely difficult to come by, even a point would feel just as special. Getting at least a draw against Arsene Wenger’s side would be like Spu*s finishing above Arsenal in the league standings.
While it’s highly unlikely, that’s not going to stop the Bulgarian side from running their socks off to get something out of this match. If anything, it’s beneficial for them seeing as they play in front of their fans, yet, there’s no real pressure. I guess the only concern is to not concede as many goals as they did at the Emirates.
Ludogorets are last in the group with just one point, but seeing as Basel are equally on a single point, a trip to the Europa League is very possible.
They come into this match having won their last three fixtures, after getting thumped by Arsenal in match day 3. Interestingly enough, going back to the beginning of August, they’ve only been defeated on three occasions. PSG, Arsenal and Levski are all responsible for those defeats, but the Gunners would love to add another negative result to the hosts’ record on Tuesday night.
Our destiny lies in the minds of the players, how strong their focus is. That starts tomorrow. We must keep a balance between vigilance and confidence. We are both attacking sides so this should be an interesting match. – Arsene Wenger
Who Will We See
You’d like to think that after the first meeting between these two sides, Arsenal would possibly be able to rotate some players. With that said, falling into that trap would be a massive mistake seeing as three points in Bulgaria could be crucial. That doesn’t necessarily mean Arsene Wenger can’t make a change or two from the squad that featured at the weekend, but the Frenchman will not want to change much.
Certain absences are those of Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin and Santi Cazorla.
Judging from AW’s presser, it appears that some of these omissions from the trip to Bulgaria could just be precautionary, with one eye already on the weekend’s North London Derby.
Had this been a year or two ago, Arsenal supporters would not be happy with this news, but given the depth in the squad, it’s not a big deal.
Carl Jenkinson will fill in nicely at right-back, with the young Englishman back in action, while fellow countryman Kieran Gibbs will hold down the fort on the left side.
I’m not going to lie, when I saw Gibbs on the team sheet at the weekend, I was nervous, but he put in a solid performance. It goes without saying that he has the potential, his only problem is putting it all together consistently.
Granit Xhaka may also find himself back in the starting XI, which would give Francis Coquelin an opportunity to catch a breather. Olivier Giroud may also get the opportunity to lead the line, fresh off two vital goals against Sunderland. Staying on the pitch will be a concern surrounding the Frenchman, seeing as he tends to get himself into trouble with match officials.
I’m just concentrating on what I have to do on the pitch. My time will come. – Olivier Giroud
Is Arsenal Finally Going To Top Their Group
Year after year, making it out of the group stage has ended in disappointment after reaching the knockout round. Failing to take the top spot in their group has continuously haunted the North London side, something they’ll look to avoid this season.
Currently first with seven points and a better goal differential than PSG, this is where Arsenal needs to make a statement.
Everyone would expect Arsene Wenger to make changes, leading to complacency and a potentially frustrating result. Anything but three points will be seen as frustrating for the visitors, and having failed to finish top of the group in years past, this is their chance.
With a victory in Bulgaria and anything other than a PSG victory in the other group match, Arsenal would guarantee a place in the knockout stage. Ideally, if Basel could steal some points from the French outfit, that would really put the Gunners in cruise control, but that may be a big ask of the Swiss side.
Either way, Arsenal simply depend on themselves, and it all begins on Tuesday. Their supporters, players, and even certainly Arsene Wenger is fed up with having to take on the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the first round of the knockout stage. Therefore, a victory in Bulgaria is an absolute must.
Bring home the three points, and then their attentions can turn to the North London Derby. Failure to end match day 4 on ten points will be terrible for the squad’s morale heading into a clash of the rivals at the weekend.
Predicting The Future
David Ospina will be between the sticks, as he should given his previous Champions League performances. While that’s an easy prediction ahead of Tuesday’s match barring an injury, predicting the outcome may be slightly trickier.
This season, it seems much easier to figure out what to expect from Arsenal. They’ve been consistently playing well, where as last year, it was almost like flipping a coin.
Would you get the free flowing Arsenal who could conquer the world on their day? Or would you see complacent Arsenal, who would play the match at a slow pace, expecting goals to just fall from the sky?
In Tuesday they shouldn’t have to be at their best, but thinking the match is won prior to kickoff could be bad.
Although their will likely be a few changes, everyone and their cousin are expecting the Gunners to come away victorious. Whether they win by one or three, all that matters is the three points.
Having seen Ludogorets at the Emirates, it’s difficult to understand how they could really pose a threat.
While the final score likely won’t be as expressive as the previous encounter, you’d expect Arsenal to score a few. Maybe two? Theee?
The hosts may grab a conciliation goal this time around, but it shouldn’t affect the result.
Ludogorets 1-3 Arsenal
Share your starting XI and prediction in the comments below.