Arsenal and Ludogorets meet for just the second time in history and the Bulgarian club will certainly be hoping for a better result than last time. 6-0 was the score line during the first meeting between the two clubs but Arsenal will surely face a tougher test in Bulgaria tonight.
Matchday: Team News – Predicted Lineup – Betting Preview
Match: Ludogorets v Arsenal
Stadium: Ludogorets Arena
Kick-Off (GMT): Tue 1 Nov 19:45
Both clubs are on excellent domestic form and sit in second place in their respective leagues. We could be in for a treat tonight.
The Bulgarian club are on excellent form domestically, particularly at home. Ludogorets have lost just two of their last 32 matches at home and one of those was against PSG in September. The Bulgarian side have scored a mightily impressive 13 goals in three matches since that defeat to Arsenal and will be itching to set the record straight.
The Gunners meanwhile are also on excellent form and the win against Sunderland on the weekend was their ninth in ten matches. Mesut Özil got a hat-trick the last time the clubs met but few would bet on the German doing the same again.
What They’re Saying
Much of the focus of the questions put to Arsene Wenger was the result last month. The 6-0 thrashing certainly raised some eyebrows and in the pre-match press conference, some questions as well.
“The result was flattering on us,” Wenger told the press when asked, “we scored many goals but, Ludogorets had chances in the first half when the game was very tight and we will need a strong defensive performance because they had good chances as well.
“It will be different of course because it’s a new game and you never can predict what will happen in a football game that’s why we love it. But overall I think what will be expected is that the two teams will have a positive attitude and try and win the game.”
Arsenal could actually qualify for the knockout stages tonight if results go their way and Arsene Wenger seemed determined to not only do that but to top the group as well.
“It’s our prime target. First let’s go step by step, let’s qualify first. We had a draw away from at PSG, we play PSG at home so if we win against Ludogorets we have a good opportunity to do it.
“It is an advantage because you play the second game in the last 16 at home so you know exactly what to achieve, you have the support if it goes to extra time if it goes to penalties. So it’s the little advantages that add to one another.
“As well if you can finish first then why finish second? That’s what we always try to do. We have paid the price many times by finishing second and playing against Barcelona or Bayern Munich, of course, we think it’s important.”
Ludogorets manager Georgi Dermendzhie seemed determined for his side not to put in a repeat performance after their thrashing at the Emirates.
“We will probably be more cautious,” he told the press.
“The difference will be that now we know better the way Arsenal play. We have seen it on the pitch and they know what to expect. We will do our best to try and play nice football.
“We have really good players, we conceded a lot of goals but some of that was because Arsenal have great players, some were because we made mistakes.”
The match also sees French pair Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny come up against a familiar face. The Arsenal duo was both at French side Tours at the same time as striker Claudiu Keseru who could well line up for Ludogorets this evening.
“They don’t have too many weak points,” The Ludogorets man said of the Arsenal pair.
“I remember them, playing four or five months, and they were already very good players. They came to England after good experiences at Guingamp with Koscielny, and Montpellier with Giroud.
“They are exceptional guys with good character. For me, it’s normal they arrived at this level. They are champions, and they act like champions. It’s normal for them to be at a club like Arsenal.”
Arsenal will have to try and secure a result without a host of first-team players. Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott will all once again miss out and they are joined on the sidelines by Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard picked up an injury in training and it’s unclear how serious it is.
See here for the full team news article.
We expect Carl Jenkinson to replace Bellerin at right back and for the Englishman to be just one of a number of changes. David Ospina should return in goals but we also predict a first start of the season for Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman was the hero at the weekend and will be itching for a chance to prove himself ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby.
See here for the full predicted lineup article.
Just the second time the clubs have ever met
Arsenal have only won one of their last five Champions League away matches
If he plays, it will be Carl Jenkinson’s first Champions League appearance since 2013
Ludogorets 0-2 Arsenal