After going 2-0 down, Arsenal came back 3-2 in order to progress to the final 16 of the Champions League.
After such a shoddy defensive display and spirited fight back, what have we learned from our trip to Bulgaria?
Kieran Gibbs needs to focus
Despite having a solid game against Sunderland at the weekend, the left-back wasn’t nearly good enough against Ludogorets.
For the second goal, he found himself isolated and was caught coming too narrow more than once. It’s no coincidence that more of the Bulgarian’s crosses were coming from his side.
I don’t think it’s necessarily down to quality but potentially fitness. It’s been a long time since the defender has started two consecutive games and I imagine he’s mentally a little unfocused, if not physically leggy.
Going forward he wasn’t too bad so there’s definitely stuff to build on. It’ll be interesting to see whether, when fit, Nacho Monreal gets his place in the starting XI back.
Alexis must stay at Arsenal forever
I shouldn’t need to tell anyone this but Alexis NEVER stops working. I know it’s been spoken about to death but the guy’s work rate is unreal. Even when we were 2-0 down, the Chilean was driving us forward, picking the ball up deep and surging forward or, if he couldn’t, putting through amazing passes.
I honestly don’t know where we’d be without him and I’m almost positive that comeback never would have happened if he hadn’t been on the pitch.
I’m just hoping he can fully recover in time for the North London Derby on Sunday.
Bring back Szczesny
Although Dave Ospina hasn’t had a bad run in the Champions League, which we’ve all praised him for, that could be more to do with the players in front of him.
Against Ludogorets he was completely static. He didn’t move to save either of the early goals and, even more worryingly, he didn’t come out to claim several crosses or corners, leaving us look shockingly vulnerable every time the ball was put in our box.
Ospina commanding his box. pic.twitter.com/sy2TcceGvt
— En (@EnEngin14) November 1, 2016
He didn’t actually begin to really leap into action until the second half after we’d already conceded two goals.
Luckily our lads were doing the business at the other end to ensure we left with three points.
Although the midfielder is still rather rusty and didn’t seem to know fully where he felt more comfortable, in the middle or out right, his cross for Giroud’s goal was beautiful and there were signs that he could be returning to his normal level soon.
To be fair, the guy’s been out since August. It’s going to take a while. However, two assists in two games seems like pretty good going for a player who’s not fit.
Arsenal progress to final 16
That’s right. Arsenal are through to the Champions League final 16 for the 19th season in a row. What’s more if that we’ve gone and done it with an away trip to Basel, who PSG beat 2-1 the same night, and home clash against the Ligue 1 champions.
We did it in the most Arsenal way possible but we did it, that’s the main thing, and with a starting XI who aren’t all too familiar with each other. As players regain fitness and get more game time, I’m sure our squad will become better equipped at being called into action.
Hopefully, we can take that winning mentality (forgetting the ‘going two goals down part’) and take that into the North London Derby on Sunday.