Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Arsenal's Trip To Ludogorets Previewed

It's back to Champions League action again for Arsenal tonight when they travel to Bulgaria to play Ludogorets. Arsenal are in a very strong position in their group with seven points from three games and they won 6-0 at home to Ludogorets two weeks ago. If they can win tomorrow night and Basel don't beat PSG then Arsenal will be through to the last 16 with two group games to spare.

It's been far too long since Arsenal got past the last 16 stage and the best way for them to do so is to win their group. If they can beat Ludogorets their group fate will come down to the home game against PSG later in the month. After drawing in Paris in September Arsenal have to be favourites to top the group, but it's still all to play for.

Despite beating Ludogorets 6-0 a couple of weeks ago it took Arsenal a while to get control of the game and Ludogorets caused them plenty of problems in the first half in particular. Ludogorets have proved to be a tough cookie to crack at home in previous seasons and they will see this as their last chance to take a big scalp in this season's competition. Arsenal cannot afford to take the game or Ludogorets lightly and their biggest problem could be the fact that they beat them 6-0 only a few weeks ago.

In team news Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal are still not fit to return and Hector Bellerin has been added to the list of those unavailable. It means there won't be too much change from the team who won 4-1 away to Sunderland on Saturday, but we could see the return of a few players. Carl Jenkinson will fill in for Bellerin while there's also the possibility of Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka playing from the start.

Xhaka is now over his domestic suspension and must be a consideration particularly if Cazorla won't be back in time for the game against Spurs on Sunday. Both Ramsey and Giroud came off the bench on Saturday to make their returns from injury and it's quite possible they will play tonight. One or two players might just need a rest after a pretty hectic schedule and perhaps Arsene Wenger will be tempted to avail of the chance tonight.

I know there have been calls from various quarters for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to sit the game out, but I hope the boss resists the temptation with five days to spare after tonight before the Spurs game. We don't want to give Ludogorets too much encouragement and a look at our team sheet without those two names would surely give them some hope.

I think Alex Iwobi has looked tired recently and it could make sense to rest him with Alexis pushing wide and Giroud going up too. Maybe Ramsey can come in beside Xhaka in midfield and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can get another chance to impress on the right. That looks like a team more than capable of getting the three points and wrapping up our place in the last 16 to boot.

If we can muster anywhere near the attacking flair we showed in the second half of the last game we should be too good for them. We are unbeaten since Liverpool beat us on the opening day and we must continue that record before playing Spurs. We have a strong squad with plenty of options, but I often think too many changes from one game to the next can backfire and affect the fluency and form of the team.

It doesn't make sense to risk losing a game which offers us such a good reward and the continuation of our unbeaten run is of paramount importance. Too often we have crumbled in November and stumbled from one bad result to another after one poor performance. With three really big games in a row coming up we need to keep ticking over by getting the right result tonight.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment