These Gunners are on top form & Ludogorets should have no chance
Match Preview: Arsenal vs Ludogorets – Champions League – 19.10.2016
Arsenal are in a good place right now, unbeaten in ten matches and on a six match winning streak. There have been some below par performances in there but the Gunners have been getting the results in whatever fashion necessary. Winning when maybe you don’t deserve to has oft been cited as the hallmark of potential champions but whilst it’s too early to talk of titles it’s the perfect time to get some decent odds using matched betting.
The team can be proud of their form and have been outstanding across the park but there are four players I want to single out for praise: Mustafi, Özil, Alexis and Walcott. Mustafi has taken to the Premier League like a fish to water and his partnership is showing promise of surpassing Mertecielny thanks to the added recovery pace.
Despite a slow start to his Arsenal career Mesut boasts 51 goal contributions in 90 league appearances matching his output for Real Madrid. Aside from being one of the most graceful footballers I have ever seen I think his greatest evolution at Arsenal was displayed as he was subbed against Swansea. Walking off the pitch having scored on his birthday he cajoled the team with screams of “FIGHT!” This is a player transformed. His talent has been sharpened by playing in a faster league but he has added incredible grit and determination in the past 3 years.
Alexis I must apologise to; I started the season vociferously unconvinced in his ability to play as a central striker having witnessed turgid performances from him in that role in the past. However, he has grown from strength to strength and has given us a different option through the middle. I still believe there are certain games he won’t excel in, the recent match against Burnley being a prime example of a game screaming for Giroud, but right now he’s first choice.
And finally to Theo; it’s no secret I’m a huge Walcott fan. I have always been convinced of his ability and have ardently supported him even at his lowest ebb (I still think he was right to jump out of that so-called 50/50 challenge.) This Theo has surprised me though – his newfound willingness to defend as much as he attacks has added balance to the team which almost perversely has enhanced his ability to influence attacks. I would go as far as to say without his movement, directness and knack for creating space for others that Alexis would not be excelling as a centre-forward as he is now.
It is these players I expect to have an impact in every game and I certainly expect convincing performances against the Bulgarian champions tonight. I confess to knowing little more about Ludogorets except for them having an ‘o’ more in their name than I originally thought.
I cannot tell you how they will set up or what sort of tactics they will play with any great authority so why am I so confident of a result?
As I’ve mentioned in previous previews Arsenal have been guilty of not respecting ‘minnow’ opponents and lost matches purely because they thought them won before kick-off – that has not been the case this season. Arsenal have shown great maturity in every match and I think they’ll play this one with the utmost professionalism.
I fancy a Basel-esque win tonight.
Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Xhaka; Özil; Alexis, Iwobi, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Elneny, Coquelin and Ox.
“I think he [Theo] has a less restricted attitude and that shows you that he is a completely different player.” – Arsène Wenger
This is the first time these sides have met
As they travel to London the visitors sit 2nd in the Bulgarian First League, behind Levski Sofia, with just one defeat this season and having won their last 5 league matches on the spin, in short they are no mugs. Two players to keep a keen eye on are Brazilian Jonathan Cafu, a direct pacey forward with a trick or two up his sleeve and a fine art from the dead ball and Marcelinho, also born in Brazil but a naturalised Bulgarian. Marcelinho has bagged 4 goals in 8 games this season and will give the Arsenal central defenders plenty to think about with his close control, hard running and physical presence up top. Anyone thinking Ludogorets won’t be up for this I urge you to watch their home defeat to PSG last time out, they lost but they gave the French champions a real scare!
Courtesy of Kris Carpenter and Goonersphere.com
- This will be Arsenal’s first meeting with a team from Bulgaria in all competitions.
- Arsenal have scored 22 goals in their previous 12 home games in Europe.
- Ludogorets have only failed to score in 1 of their last 9 Champions League ties
- Theo Walcott has already exceeded his goal tally from last season
- The Gunners have kept four consecutive clean sheets in all competitions.
4-0 to Arsenal. Walcott, Alexis and Iwobi to score.
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