Arsenal have never faced Ludogorets before, or any Bulgarian side for that matter, so what can we expect?
Let’s try and take away the fear of the unknown, shall we?
David Ospina between the sticks
Arsene Wenger has made his preference for the Colombian during Champions League fixtures very clear. He’s already started during our previous two European clashes, I don’t see why the boss would stop now.
Plus, as has already been mentioned, Petr Cech wasn’t that great against Swansea on Saturday, letting in two goals, which could have been kept out if he’d moved.
Ospina has been decent so far. There’s no reason to drop him and every reason to give him another chance in goal. I’d be seriously surprised if Cech gets the nod.
Coq in for Xhaka
Although I’m slightly less sure about this one than Ospina in goal, I reckon Wenger will drop Xhaka for a few reasons.
Firstly, his red card against Swansea. Although it wasn’t a straight red, it was definitely a cynical foul or ‘dark yellow’ as Wenger put it. As a response, the boss could drop him to the bench to cool off, while simultaneously giving him a rest.
Secondly, Francis Coquelin has been out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury. Although he claims to be 100% ready now, Ludogorets at the Emirates might be a sensible match the reintroduce him into.
Finally, Coquelin was with Wenger during his press conference, which doesn’t indicate to me that he won’t be playing a part.
Tougher than they seem
I’m under no illusions that Ludogorets will just turn up and roll over. Although they eventually lost 3-1 against PSG, they initially went 1-0 ahead through Natanae and continued to fight until the end.
Although PSG’s players are brilliant on paper, as we discovered when we played them, they’re not as fantastic as they seem to think they are. However, they’re still Ligue 1 champions.
Ludogorets came out fighting and I have no doubt, pumped up by the atmosphere and Champions League anthem, they’ll do the same with Arsenal.
Theo Walcott to score
Not only did the forward score a brace against Swansea at the weekend, he also scored two against Basel in our last Champions League match at the Emirates. He’s on fire right now, having scored seven in nine appearances.
The only matches he hasn’t scored or assisted in are Leicester away (0-0) and Southampton at home (2-1).
He’s likely to start against Ludogorets considering how fit he seems to be right now (famous last words) and, with him in the form he’s in, you’d be a fool to bet against him scoring again.
I could say something similar about Alexis but with that guy, you know he’s always going to perform. No matter the occasion. With Theo, it’s slightly more of a novelty at the moment.
Fantastic away support
This is the first time Ludogorates are playing at the Emirates and, as one of the best stadiums in the world, it’s pretty impressive.
The traveling supporters will know they’re the underdogs and therefore, they won’t be nervous. They’re just there to have a good time and if they happen to even get a sniff of a point, they’ll most likely be happy.
Therefore, I expect lots of chanting, singing and heckling our players from the away end.
Hopefully, the atmosphere as a whole is bouncing on Wednesday night. The Emirates loves a European clash so let’s get behind the lads and earn another three points going forward.