Ludogorets Razgrad VS Arsenal Prediction
Two weeks after crushing Ludogorets Razgrad at its own “Emirates Stadium”, Arsenal travels to Bulgaria where both clubs are set for their second encounter in Group A of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League. First half of the group phase has already passed and it seems Arsenal and PSG will meet all expectations, as the two main group A favourites compete for the first position, while Ludogorets and Basel are both keen to finish third, which secures more European football in the UEFA Europa League 1/16 finals. Unless we don’t have some major blow in remaining three weeks, which pretty much means someone from PSG/Arsenal must lose all its remaining games. Anyway, who knows… that’s why positive results, even a draw, would be fine for Arsenal and PSG in their respective Champions League outings on Tuesday evening, 1 November 2016.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Arsenal – Team News and Match Preview
First match between Arsenal and Ludogorets has ended with a stunning 6-0 success for “The Gunners”, when German playmaker Mesut Özil was on fire – scoring his first hat-trick and assisting for Theo Walcot’s goal. Özil’s hat-trick was scored in second half of the game and he virtually made the score 6-0 from 3-0. Of course, we must note that Ludogorets had their own scoring chances especially after Alexis Sanchez’s lovely lofted ball over Ludogorets’ goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov. Ludogorets could score in period between both first-half goals (12th-42nd minutes) which were scored by the English side from North London. However, they couldn’t benefit from the opportunities and when you don’t realize your own chances against greater opposition, then the most logical outcome is to be heavily punished – as it happened.
Since we mentioned North London, then we cannot skip highlighting of upcoming North London derby facing Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon. This will be only the first from upcoming three notable challenges which “Gunners” must play in following weeks of November, as except their fixture against Spurs, Arsene Wenger’s men will travel to “Old Trafford” for another English Premier League round, before welcoming PSG in their fifth Champions League group stage fixture, which can be the first-place decider. Matches against Man Utd and PSG are scheduled for second half of November, right after break for international football, so Arsene Wenger will be hoping to avoid giving victims as we all know Arsenal’s roster is full of national team players.
Arsenal flies for Bulgaria after a weekend journey in the English North East, where “Gunners” were explosive as they won 1-4 at the “Stadium of Light” in Sunderland. Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud were both goal scorers (two for each) and their efficiency extends Arsenal’s superb form to 14 games without a loss, meaning Arsenal are unbeaten since the 3-4 by Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool in first half of August, which actually was first official 2016-17 fixture for the red-white club from North London. Thus Arsene Wenger’s men are part of the triumvirate sitting on top of the English Premier League standings, where we find Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. They all share same number of 23 points won in 10 EPL rounds but “Gunners” are second due their goal difference (+15 for Man City, +13 for Arsenal and +11 for Liverpool). Other London rivals (Chelsea and Tottenham) are right behind that leading trio, so we definitely have one of the most intriguing English Premier League seasons in the last years.
Losing 0-6 to Arsenal has been huge upset for Ludogorets, but such a result remains only in the past and Georgi Dermendzhiev has to concentrate on his second leg approach. In fact Ludogorets suffered its heaviest ever defeat but “Eagles from Razgrad” have rebounded after three successive victories on domestic turf, scoring 13 goals in that period. Last of them was on Friday night when Ludogorets had a visit at its own “Ludogorets Arena” in Razgrad, since their opponents Dunav Ruse are playing there, while their own stadium undergoes some renovations to acquire license. That was perhaps the most intriguing game since season in Bulgarian First League has began in July, as score on half time was 2-3 for the “away side”, while final score was 3-5. Wonderful production for all neutral football lovers who once again saw Ludogorets’ main weakness – their defense. However, their attacking line compensated all holes at the back, but we saw what happened last time against Arsenal. Georgi Dermendzhiev must find a solution for that if he wants to avoid similar scenario as in the first leg.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Arsenal – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
We can say Ludogorets is expected to start with nearly same lineup Georgi Dermendzhiev used against Dunav, as well as with similar to the one he named in London. First of all Vladislav Stoyanov should return between the sticks, at the expense of Milan Borjan who was first goalkeeping choice of Georgi Dermendzhiev in last three domestic games. Otherwise same outfield formation that played against Dunav should start again, meaning that Romanian striker Claudiu Keseru will lead Ludogorets’ attack from the outset, while Dutch winger Virgil Misidjan should be dropped on the bench. His position at the right flank should be covered by Jonathan Cafu who led Ludogorets’ attack at the “Emirates”. Now Dermendzhiev must start with a typical striker while Cafu’s pace can be more helpful through the wing.
Such a rotation in the Bulgarian side definitely makes sense if we consider that Arsene Wenger has few injury concerns here and he must decide whether to risk them in the Champions League or to save them for upcoming derby against Spurs on Sunday. Well, except the long-term injuries of Per Mertesacker, Chuba Akpom and Danny Welbeck, Arsenal’s boss cannot rely to injured attacker Lucas Perez. Spaniard assisted for two of Özil’s goals in the first leg but he’ll be ruled out for around six weeks after an ankle ligament damage. He was injured in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Reading in the League Cup last Tuesday, while at the same time right-back Carl Jenkinson made his first senior appearance since January in that game. Meanwhile Aaron Ramsey made his first appearance after the aforementioned loss by Liverpool on matchday one, as Ramsey came on as substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and only some seconds later Welsh midfielder delivered the ball for Alexis Sanchez’s second goal. Nonetheless, it may be too early for Ramsey to start here but he can definitely be an option. Anyhow, we expect that Wenger will rely to a central midfield duo between Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka, as latter had a rest in the weekend EPL round, serving last of its three-match ban.
Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott were all out of the group for Sunderland as they were replaced respectively by Kieran Gibbs, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Monreal was doubtful for that game and it seems Wenger choose not to risk his Spanish left-back, as well as Santi Cazorla (heel problem) and Theo Walcott (hamstring). Considering bigger importance of the North London derby and chance which Arsenal has in the EPL, we believe that Wenger can afford to save these main men, who recover from different injures. He has enough options and can always name strong XI anyway.
Matchday update – 01.11.2016: Spanish right-back Hector Bellerin didn’t make the trip to Bulgaria so his position may be taken by Carl Jenkinson.
Final conclusion and Betting Prediction
Ludogorets will do their best to spoil Arsenal’s intention for easy win here and we believe “Eagles” must show same confidence they’ve shown in London. Of course, that cost them too much but they knew what to expect from Arsenal and that “Gunners” are one of the teams in-form, not only in England, but in European football at all. Ludogorets sticks to its attacking mentality and we cannot expect deep defending by them, not at all. Fact that Georgi Dermendzhiev knows very well his side isn’t that stable at the back can be considered as well.
It’s out of question Arsenal can score here, we saw the overall quality and pace gap in London, but we expect same by Ludogorets – as they did to grab a point against Basel in Switzerland, followed by the brilliant free-kick taken by Natanael, who opened the score for Ludogorets, although they lost 1-3 to PSG in their first home match.
Moreover, Ludogorets have scored in all their UEFA Champions League group stage games at home (4 out of 4) which includes games vs Basel, Real Madrid, Liverpool and PSG.
Odds on “Both teams to score – Yes” are good enough to be recommended by our betting analysts, since we expect open football and also more by the hosts in second Champions League fixture meeting Ludogorets Razgrad vs Arsenal.
Venue: “Natsionalen Stadion Vasil Levski”, Sofia.
Referee: Bas Nijhuis from the Netherlands.
Possible starting lineups of Ludogorets Razgrad and Arsenal
Ludogorets Razgrad: Vladislav Stoyanov – Yordan Minev, Cosmin Moti, Jose Palomino, Natanael – Anicet, Svetoslav Dyakov – Jonathan Cafu, Marcelinho, Wanderson – Claudiu Keseru. (4-2-3-1)
Arsenal: David Ospina – Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Carl Jenkinson – Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka – Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Olivier Giroud. (4-2-3-1)