After a 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon away against Sunderland, Arsène Wenger’s side will be eager to continue their winning ways ahead of a crunch month of fixtures in November.
An away trip to Bulgaria is a mild start to the month with all things considered, but the hosts will be keen to get revenge after an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at the Emirates on matchday three.
They warmed up ahead of this fixture with a 5-3 win over FK Dunav in their domestic league, with striker Claudiu Keseru giving manager Georgi Dermendzhiev a selection headache after netting a hat-trick on Friday.
The 29-year-old Romanian forward, best known for his time in Ligue 1, has only played 23 minutes of group stage football this term in two cameo appearances.
During Arsène’s pre-match press, he revealed team news ahead of Tuesday’s fixture and spoke about the players who didn’t travel with the group to Sofia.
Nacho Monreal (muscle), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Theo Walcott (hamstring) were all absent from the trip to the Stadium of Light on the weekend, and are being given adequate time to recover from their respective injuries.
Hector Bellerín, the club’s first choice right-back, was described as having a “little incident in the last minute of training”, so was not risked and told to rest at home.
On the game itself, Wenger said: “For us it’s a big game because as you said, if we win we can qualify. But if we lose, you can as well be in a difficult situation. So we know the importance of the game is massive.”
Carl Jenkinson impressed and completed the full 90 minutes against Reading in the EFL Cup tie last week, and has travelled with the squad to Bulgaria.
When asked about his selection dilemma, in regards to who’ll start at right-back: “He [Carl] is in the squad. I have not named the team yet, I will decide that tomorrow. I have plenty of right-backs in the squad, three or four.”
As previously mentioned, there are four certain absentees from the first-team squad available for selection on Tuesday. That’s not including Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker, who are both on track to return at the start of 2017 provided neither suffer setbacks between now and the new year.
David Ospina is likely to be recalled in the starting eleven whilst Carl Jenkinson could feature from the offset at right-back. Granit Xhaka could start alongside Mohamed Elneny or Francis Coquelin as part of a holding midfield duo, whilst Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are expected to start on either wing with Mesut Özil in the middle.
Alexis Sánchez could potentially be rested, meaning Olivier Giroud would make his first start of the season in attack.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Gibbs, Koscielny, Mustafi, Jenkinson; Xhaka, Elneny; Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil; Giroud.
Ludogorets have responded in the best possible way to their humbling defeat, with two consecutive victories domestically.
They’ll be eager for an improved performance against Arsenal this time, even though they didn’t play particularly poorly, they’ll know that any mistakes made can be punished to devastating effect.
Wanderson and Jonathan Cafú in particular were two of Ludogorets’ more prominent attacking players a fortnight ago and there’s no reason to believe they won’t play to a similar level this time around too.
If that’s the case, Arsenal’s backline will have to be weary because they caused a number of problems irrespective of what the final scoreline showed at the Emirates.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Stoyanov; Natanael, Palomino, Moti, Minev; Dyakov, Anlcet; Wanderson, Cafú, Marcelinho; Keseru.