Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal. “Our destiny lies in the minds of the players”

By Bulldog Drummond

Seems there is a bit of a debate going on about Arsenal’s line up today with Mr Wenger being at his most enigmatic.

We know that Monreal, Cazorla, Bellerin and Walcott did not travel.   Mr Wenger said of the two last named players “both are ‘more or less’ injuries”.  I’m not 100% sure what a ‘more or less injury’ is, but what we know is that they have avoided a trip to foreign parts in cold November.

As for whether Carl Jenkinson gets another run out the boss said, “He is in the squad. I have plenty of right backs in the squad, three or four.”   Is that really right?

Anyway, I spent a restless night trying to work out how you might fit this current squad into a 4-4-2 line up of which there has been much speculation, and eventually gave up.  The back four and front two are easy (Giroud and Alexis up front, the back four as is – although with a replacement for Bellerin).

But that middle four.  Can we play Ozil and Xhaka together in the centre with Theo and Iwobi in deeper roles?   Or play Ozil and Giroud as 10 and 9, with Alexis on one wing and Theo on the other – thus making room for Coquelin and Xhaka in the centre.

Olivier certainly has learned how to say the right stuff, as in, “In every big club you have a lot of good strikers with different qualities and the team has been doing very well since the start of the season. I’ve hoped to come back in and I’ve worked hard in training to do so but I’m happy as long as the team are winning and I’ve seen we have good cohesion as a side.

“So I’m not questioning myself too much about my place. I just need to play more and keep training well and show I’m in good form. That’s what I always try and bring to the team. When I came on against Sunderland I tried to raise the side to get back into the game. It was 1-1 and we needed the win. Fortunately I finished the work of the team well. I feel good on the pitch. My injury is behind me and I want to look forward and qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. There’s also a big game on Sunday. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do on the pitch. My turn will come.”

Of course Sunday must be kept in mind – and although the Tiny Totts have the advantage of not going to foreign parts tomorrow, they are doing the next best thing and playing at Wembley against Bayer 04 Leverkusen Football Limited (as it said when I typed the name into Google to check the spelling).

Assuming Arsenal win and PSG get at least a draw then we’re through to the next round, but there is still the little detail of who wins the group to sort out.  On which matter Mr Wenger was almost poetic:

Claudiu Keseru, who played alongside Giroud and Laurent Koscielny at Tours was diplomacy at its best when asked about the past.

“I saw after one or two weeks with Koscielny that he was playing at the wrong level, and he helped raise that team up in his time there. He had so much quality. They both acted like winners.”

The Ludogorets manager, Georgi Dermendzhiev, obviously a man who doesn’t read the English gutter press said Arsenal would end the season “as champions of England” if recent form is maintained.  He suggested his team would play a more defensive game this time around.

The Bulgarian side have no injury or suspensions to think about ahead of this fixture.  But of course it wouldn’t be November without Arsenal having a fair number.

Indeed our injury table at first sight looks fairly awful, but the point is that in previous years some or all of Walcott, Monreal, Santi Caz and Bellerin would have been risked – at least for some sunbathing on the beach.  Now the squad is such that we don’t need to risk anyone.

Player injured Type of injury Return date
T Walcott Hamstring November 6
N Monreal Muscle Fatigue November 6
S Cazorla Achilles November 6
H Bellerin Knock November 6
Lukas Perez Ankle December 10
C Akpom Back January 14, 2017
P Mertesacker Knee January 2, 2017
D Welbeck Cartilage Knee Injury January 22, 2017

Here’s the team then


Jenkinson Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs

Coquelin Xhaka Coquelin

Oxlade-Chamberlain Ozil Iwobi


Lurking on the Bulgarian beach…

Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are the obvious players to come on, and I suspect Cech will be there in case of problems in the goalkeeper area.  Elneny drops out to make way for Xhaka, so goes onto the bench too.

Which would give me a list of

Cech, Gabriel, Holding, Debuchy, Ramsey, Elneny, Giroud

(Incidentally I have of course continued the tradition of naming Coquelin twice.  Did you spot that one?  Silly, I know, but traditions are traditions.)

Ludogorets meanwhile keep on winning and have also had the benefit of the weekend off, moving their last fixture back to the Friday when they beat Dunay 2010, 3-5 away.

On the other hand, our run is now 14-matches unbeaten in all competitions and four consecutive wins away from the Ems so  we can match them in that regard.

Here’s the Bulgarian league

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 11 9 1 1 34 12 +22 28
2 12 8 4 0 22 5 +17 28
3 12 7 2 3 18 14 +4 23
4 12 6 3 3 18 7 +11 21
5 12 5 4 3 15 11 +4 19
6 12 5 3 4 21 19 +2 18
7 11 5 1 5 10 14 -4 16
8 12 4 4 4 19 19 +0 16
9 12 4 1 7 17 22 -5 13
10 11 4 1 6 12 18 -6 13
11 11 3 2 6 10 19 -9 11
12 12 3 2 7 10 21 -11 11
13 12 2 2 8 11 22 -11 8
14 12 1 2 9 7 21 -14 5

It is, in these diplomatically troubled times, good to see a western state from the USA showing such solidarity as to enter a team into the Bulgarian A league even if they are bottom.

Recent tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #08 complete with video evidence. The worst week yet.

Ref Review: Arsenal – Middlesbrough; a non Deanesque score!

Seeing the positives at Arsenal has been easy, so far

Arsenal always do worse than everyone else in November, and other myths.

10 things we learned about football in the last week which the media won’t admit

The Football journalists education programme. A public service commentary.

From the Arsenal History Society  

March 1935: beating Tottenham by a record score but losing one of our greatest goalkeepers

You can find an index to all the series to date on the Society’s web site.

49 Replies to “Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal. “Our destiny lies in the minds of the players””

  1. The U19s could only manage a 1-1 draw in their game against Ludogrets this afternoon. Reiss Nelson putting the Gunners ahead after 36 minutes and Preslav Petroleum equalising for the hosts in the 73rd minute. Arsenal nearly won the game with seven minutes to go but Krystian Bielik who was captaining the Gunners could only rattle the crossbar with a powerful half-volley. Probably not good enough for qualification. Six points from the last two games needed for us to have any chance I think.

  2. Was Francis on a famous Monty Python mountaineering team? The Coquelin brothers will lead up the north face…..

  3. Whether Ludogorets have no injury problem to worry about or not, and have moved their last League game 1 day behind that of Arsenal, such actions by them is to no avail. Arsenal will still beat them 0-4 at their Ludogorets Arena before their partisan home supporters,

    in my own starts and bench for this match, I’ve decided not to start Ozil, Mustafi and Iwobi for this game but start them from the bench because I think they need to have a rest due to fatigue alert which I saw in them in the Sunderland game. And I am starting Olivier Giroud as a false right-winger or left-winger as the case maybe. While I start Sanchez to retained his starting role to lead the line for us.

    My starts once again:

    Jenkinson Holding Koscielny Gibbs
    Coquelin Xhaka
    Oxchambo Ramsey Giroud

    My bench:

    Cech Maitland-Niles Mustafi Gabriel Elneny Ozil Iwobi.

  4. No Arsenal13 yet? 🙂

    Well, SAA has again (multiple times) posted his advice to Wenger.

    But, looking at the UEFA website, something clued in. I asked yesterday if Arsenal were staying in Sofia and bussing to Razgrad today. Well, the game is in Sofia at the National Stadium. So, I was dumb. It is apparently +3 there.

    It could be worse. Here in NE BC Canada, we are getting our third snowfall of the winter, and it is about -3C.

    Disappointing the read that the U19 didn’t get a win.


  5. Le Prof’s starts and bench are now officially out for this game. Apparently, he did not agree to my notion that Mustafi and Ozil should start from the bench as he has started them to consequently have 2 of my starters of, Oxchambo and Holding on the bench.

    I have accepted Le Prof’s starts and bench with in total good faith. Afterall, he’s the Arsenal manager. And I believe Arsenal will still beat Ludogorets Razgrad by 4 goals to nil at full-time.

    I know the Ucl matches kick–off time must have been changed from the summer time to the winter time. Hence the Ucl matches are now starting at 20:45 PM (GMT) instead of the 19:45 PM we’ve been haven. To avoid players getting much cold, why not leave the kick-off time to still remain at that 19:45 PM since the cold gets colder as the night increases with time.

  6. Arvind had mentioned before, as a source of commentary. And I hadn’t bookmarked it, and had forgotten exactly the name. But, I have it up today. It looks to be significantly more detailed, and a lot less rubbish, than say Guardian or Daily Mail.

    Come on Aaron and Mesut, put that ball in the Ludogorets goal!


  7. Bloody phantom foul routine. Referees learning from the PGMO. How on earth is that a handball!

  8. Unfortunately nothing wrong with that goal but our defence. Calm down and concentrate lads.

  9. Whoops! This is not going to plan.Tough on Gibbs for the first goal. Not deliberate hand ball, but Cafu skinned him for the second

  10. First half…. perfect.script for a neutral.

    Come on Gunners….make second half our…

  11. Gibbs was wondering why the free kick was given!!!….which eventually leads to their goal..

  12. Might have missed the other discussions…..

    The Alexis penalty claim at Sunderland…..No one is talking about it. They are about Spurs penalty, which is a similar claim. But not this….

  13. The upset that suddenly appeared on the cards against us has suddenly disappeared with goals from Xhaka & Oli. If Arsenal can keep to defensive discipline in the 2nd half not to allow Ludo to score again but score 2 more goals themselves. That will put paid to Ludogorets attempt to cause a major upset in this group A. Meanwhile, PSG are heading the group at half-time as they led Basel 0-1. I believe Arsenal will change that in the 2nd half to reclaim the leadership of the group from PSG at Full-time.

  14. What is this referee doing, I have absolutely no idea – he seems be making it up as he is going on. That free kick was nowhere near the offence

  15. Come on Arsenal, with PSG leading, we really need to win this game.

    Come on Basel/Basle, tie up that game!


  16. OK let’s not do anything stupid now like losing. A draw with one point is much better. that’ll do very nicely thank you Özil.

  17. Ludo really made us work for that result, but we got there eventually.
    What a great goal by Ozil. Such mastery of the ball.

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