Ludogorets Preview: Focus & Rotate – A Delicate Balance

Match day once again and an interesting game from the manager’s perspective. Arsenal sit top of the Champions League group and a win tonight confirms progress, if combined with a PSG victory over Basel – and thrashed Ludogorets a fortnight ago. The biggest issue seems, on the surface, to be stopping complacency setting in.

Arsène hinted at the problem when he focussed on the players mental attitude as being a key issue if the team are to do well this month. November, he acknowledged had been a tricky month before but “we’ve also had positive ones in our history too” in a Canute-like moment to stem the bad karma the media is ushering our way.

“The most The most important thing is to not live with the past,” before adding, “we have to live with the team we have at the moment.” Which can be made to sound a lot more resigned than Arsène intended. Whether you choose to take that view depends more on your mood than anything else.

Arsène sought to impress upon us that the players hold to the key to this season:

“Our destiny lies in the minds of the players, how strong our focus is and how hungry we are. We need to be like that in every single game, starting tomorrow.”

It always is. The win over Sunderland displayed a degree of focus, with the XI not knocked out of their stride by the equaliser and the seeming injustice of Alexis’ penalty appeal being denied. There is the question of the preceding hour where we only established a single goal lead. A lack of ruthlessness brought on by the certain knowledge of being far superior to your opponents?

That’s the manifestation of complacency the manager and players need to guard against. At some point, it comes back to bite on the backside, normally in November or February. Tonight is one of those games with a potential banana skin.

Come on, I hear you say, where is the ‘professional braggadocio’ of the supporter? Still in Zagreb, I think, is the answer and I’m not quite sure why. Tonight’s team will be changed, which may well be a good thing. Rather than the usual rotation with players knowing they won’t get into the XI no matter, some of the players are highly motivated to retain their place with this weekend in mind.

Prime candidate is Olivier Giroud. The French international is looking to get back into the first team:

“The team has played very well at the start of the season but it’s cyclic and I hope to come back by working hard in training. I’m happy as long as we win. We have a very good team cohesion and I’m not questioning myself too much. I’m just focused on the team.”

It lost a bit in translation in his mind because it did read as if he thought the good form wouldn’t last: “it’s cyclic”? Past experience has bitten Olivier hard, I’d suggest. Which is no bad thing. A motivated forward came on at Sunderland and two goals later he’d given the manager a lot to think about.

Tonight is interesting from the team selection perspective. How many players does Arsène rotate? David Ospina replaces Cech, Jenkinson likewise the injured Bellerin. With those two changes, is it sensible to change the centre back(s)? Granit Xhaka in for Coquelin, partnering Elneny, maybe Ramsey? Giroud in for Alexis or Alex Iwobi?

You could go spend a long time on the combinations and I’m sure Arsène has. The match has too much riding on it for Wenger to go full on EFL Cup and rotate the side out but the temptation must be there. I do think the changes will be limited to no more than four; it would be too disruptive for an away game. Which leads the line-up to be:

Ospina; Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs; Xhaka, Elneny; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Alexis; Giroud

Wins for PSG and Arsenal tonight send both teams through; they will both be aspiring to that with, I suspect, the return at the Emirates played as a game of cat and mouse. The 6 – 0 home win over Ludogorets may well prove decisive.

I do expect us to win tonight and clearly as well. Arsenal are 3/1 on, to win and frankly, that’s normally bad news for us. You can keep an eye on the odds for tonight’s game with this promo code for Bet on Brazil.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

175 thoughts on “Ludogorets Preview: Focus & Rotate – A Delicate Balance

  1. AK says:

    as it stands, scorelines across europe are not adhering to the script.

  2. Bill says:

    Lucky for us they are very poor at playing defense.

    I suspect it may be time for Giroud’s annual 12-14 game hot streak and that leaves just enough time for the 12-14 cold streak.

  3. Ras says:

    It’s nights like this where the DESIRE to Win and put in a good performance have to be shown. The footballing techical ability of the Arsenal is better than Ludo. It’s nights like this that collective has to show its mettle.

  4. AK says:

    once Monreal is fit Mr Gibbs will be content with his 10mins cameo

  5. Jonnygunner says:

    Ramsey(although supplying a nice cross for Oli) shouldn’t be on the pitch tonight.He’s got no pace,no idea on the flanks.
    Gibbs (as I said on Saturday)-is a defender….stop the crosses Kieran!!!
    Wenger playing his pet Rambo may cost us this tie.
    The Ox needs to be on the right with Ramsey on the bench

  6. C says:


    It is a shocking kit, and I’m of a younger generation that normally likes them but it just doesn’t feel like Arsenal…

  7. C says:


    He does the need time to shake off rust, but unlike in previous seasons, he shouldn’t hop in front of others like Ox who are showing good form.

  8. Jonny says:

    Sanchez up for tax-fraud…

    Barcelona players were all at it…

  9. Wavey says:


    Got home to find it was 2-0 and then missed Xhaka’s goal as I was covering the bike. Saw Giroud’s goal and the others at half time.

    A great free kick for their first goal, but surprised that none of the defenders went for the ball. Gibbs was absolutely pony for the second goal. No idea why he lunged in when the player wasn’t getting past him if he just stayed on his feet and tracked him.

    Great work to recover from the cluster fuck of being 2 down. I’ve seen a few stupid flicks tried since I’ve been watching. Why do we think we can play those little tricks in very tight spaces? Ospina showing that he may be a great shot stopper, but he craps himself when the opposition stick a cross under the bar.

  10. Ras says:

    Ludo have tried to intimidate bully the Arsenal players. How do you explain that challenge on Sanchez?

  11. YW says:

    This is a ‘Google’ translation of the page in El Periodico which broke the story:

    The Prosecution of Barcelona has filed in the courts of the Catalan capital a complaint against the former player of FC Barcelona and currently at Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez , for alleged fraud to the Treasury of 983,443 euros for the years 2012 and 2013, when I joined the Barca club.

    It is the fifth Barca player who has problems with the Spanish justice for allegedly unpaid taxes due to him. Before they went through the same bad shot Leo Messi (sentenced to 21 months in jail and a fine), Javier Mascherano (accepted a year in jail and a fine), Samuel Etoo (the process is open) and Adriano . The latter player has outstanding travel from Turkey, where he now plays, to testify before a judge in Barcelona.

    The complaint, signed by the prosecutor Miguel Angel Perez de Gregorio , reports that in 2012 and 2013, Alexis Sanchez obtained important revenues of assignment of rights signed with the club that should have been taxed on their tax returns income of individuals (income tax).

    However, the prosecution argues that to “avoid paying” the footballer “simulated” the transfer of these rights to the entity Numidia Trading company “merely instrumental” based on the island of Malta .


    The player used this mechanism to avoid paying quotas of 587,677 euros (year 2012) and 395,766 euros (2013), the Tax Agency hiding the existence of Numidia entity, of which he owned 99%. Thus, control difficult tax income derived his rights transfer contract with FC Barcelona.

    The prosecutor notes that neither in 2012 nor in 2013 the athlete declared any income derived from the exploitation of image rights. Nor it was recorded in tax declarations equity participation in entities Numidia and Investment Alsan .


    The forward contracted in 2008 with Inversiones Alsan, Chilean entity which has 99% of shares, the transfer of their image rights. Years later, in 2011, the firm gave way to society Numidia. As a result of these contracts, they are this company and not the player who will receive income from the exploitation of their image rights. But this contract, according to the prosecution, “is to be understood as a simulation intended to defraud” the Spanish Treasury .

    The complaint highlights the “irrationality” of the consideration agreed for the transfer of these rights. The amounts, in his view, are “ridiculous” under which earned the player and its global progression, “being the most emblematic of Chile player.” Both Numidia as Alsan have no business infrastructure.

    According to the prosecution, it is clear Numidia, which has had no activity or workers, is a “purely instrumental entity” to facilitate “the fraud committed to the Spanish Treasury.” The complaint adds that the July 25, 2011, Alexis signed a contract with the club in which he MANIFESTO be the owner of his image rights when in 2008 had already yielded to the company Alsan and in 2011 for signature Numidia.

    The prosecution believes that the facts may constitute two crimes against the Treasury and brings the complaint lodged in July by the Tax Agency.

  12. Wavey says:


    Sounds like he’ll have to do a deal like Messi did then.

  13. C says:

    Ozil out it near post, why did Giroud stop his run?

  14. andy1886 says:

    Similar start to the second half as to the first. Need to step it up and take the game more seriously.

  15. C says:

    I know some won’t like it but with Giroud and Ramsey in the side, we simply can’t high press because while they both work hard, by the time they turn to get their man, the ball is gone. They actually don’t have the pace or quickness to high press.

  16. andy1886 says:

    Le Coq losing his head a bit, booked and needs to calm it down.

  17. Wavey says:


    In the UK it was film rights with investors being able to generate losses which could offset CGT. A friend of mine worked for one of the investment firms and told me that the class of shares investors bought was too far down the pecking order to ever make money, even on the most profitable films. Footballers were big investors and HMRC went hunting.

  18. C says:

    Haha slow plat, guess we can’t blame Elneny 😉

  19. Wavey says:

    Xhaka has done it again. What the fuck is wrong with him?

  20. C says:

    Jenks doesn’t track the run or communicate and they almost get in.

    Jenks and Gibbs are attacking FB’s but truly do lack the defending qualities to actually challenge Bellerin and Nacho.

  21. Wavey says:

    Catching our high line out every time and we are trying to walk through them.

  22. C says:


    He needed to make that challenge, cynical but nothing more than a yellow at worst. The break was on with Jenks pushed up high.

  23. andy1886 says:

    Second best again, you’d have thought that AW would’ve sorted them out at half time but clearly not.

  24. Ras says:

    We got out of jail in that Ludo attack. Lack of awareness in defending.

    The love in Ramsey experiment has to be terminated now. He currently is not contributing enough to warrant staying on the pitch.

    It’s stupidity in staying with him and the Ox and Iwobi have been playing regural.

  25. Wavey says:

    Now Jenks gets a yellow. He can’t cope with their pace.

  26. C says:


    See my post about our pressing and I think its apart of it. Sanchez at CF brings an urgency and pressing to the team that the likes of Ozil, Theo, Le Coq, Xhaka and some of the others like where Giroud simply can’t because a simple pass beats him pressing due to lack of pace.

  27. Ras says:

    I guess Plan A and Plan B are currently not not working so well.

  28. C says:


  29. Wavey says:

    Ramsey needed to come off earlier. He was struggling very badly. No surprise given that he had nothing more than a cameo on Saturday.

  30. andy1886 says:

    We must be one of the poorest at set pieces in the CL.

    Basel 1 -1 PSG.

  31. andy1886 says:

    Dicking around at the back, lazy and stupid.

  32. Wavey says:

    Gibbs runs himself right into trouble because he can’t make up his mind what to do. They just seem to want it more. We love being shaken up by minnows who are up for a fight.

  33. Wavey says:

    We need Bellerin and Monreal back for Sunday. The Spuds FBs will destroy Jenks and Gibbs.

  34. mesutsleftfoot says:


  35. andy1886 says:

    Great goal from Ozil !! Cool finish.

  36. Wavey says:

    Awesome from Ozil. Thought he’d blown it for a second.

  37. Jonny says:

    Amazing from Mesut. Composure.

    City 3-1 up against Barca…

  38. C says:

    Fucking Ozil, pay that man what he wants!!!!*!! 200/k, #10 shirt; give it to him!

  39. C says:

    Told Bill he had goals in him just needed to be more selfish!!!!!

  40. Wavey says:

    Shocking from corners tonight. Lucky.

    Three points.

  41. Bill says:


    I hope he can continue to score. We have plenty of creators and I would much rather have him scoring more often.

  42. mesutsleftfoot says:

    We didn’t get nearly as much credit for beating an in prime Barca at Emirates with a team costing 1/5th of City’s…..Really annoys me that since Pep arrived City are suddenly the best team in Prem league by miles

  43. Bill says:


    It’s a bit early to be patting yourself on the back for your prediction. You can tell me “I told you so” if Mesut can get close to double digits in league goals. 😉

  44. mesutsleftfoot says:

    Fantastic spirit to come back and win from 2 goals down….Especially since they threw themselves down at every point of contact.

    Right hand side of Jenks and Ramsey was REALLY weak tonight, exposed defence horribly! Spurs would have field day with that, hoping Bellerin and Theo are back

  45. Adam Singh says:

    Where has Ozil’s pace come from this season. TUEs?

  46. Wavey says:

    Watched the stream covering the Arsenal game. Conversation in the studio is all about the City game and they are interviewing City players. No mention of the final score of the Arsenal game or Ozil’s goal. WTF?

  47. mesutsleftfoot says:


    City are now instant title winners again……Remember when we beat Barca and it was described as a hit and run despite bossing them for entire second half also. Pep effect….When they play badly it’s oh well but when they win it’s DID YOU SEE THAT NO ONE ELSE DOES THAT

  48. Wavey says:

    Pretty sure the commentator has his hand in his pants behind the desk.

  49. SV says:

    Good comeback. Now roll on Sunday which is a must win.

  50. Bill says:

    It’s fun to get the style as well as the real points but We can’t win every game 6-0 and the taking all 3 points anyway you can get them is what matters.

  51. SV says:

    Seen Pep’s comments somewhere that during their bad run he did not have doubts his methods, he had doubts about players.

  52. mesutsleftfoot says:


    i don’t think we’d have won or draw that game last season….Also seems like Ramsey and Jenks are losing their place in our team with the emergence of Iwobi, maybe getting the rust off, but that wasn’t good enough to our recent standards.

    I’ve seen no updates on theo, Bellerin, Santi or Monreal however…..

  53. Jonny says:

    I don’t begrudge City the headlines and the attention – plenty of reasons why that would is such a newsworthy result and performance.

    We barely scraped past a team from Bulgaria and their ex-manager just reversed a humiliating corresponding fixture for a famous and historic victory against arguably the best team in the world…

  54. Jonny says:

    Happy with scraping the win – now we need some good injury news and to clear our minds for the fixture proper on the weekend.

  55. Bill says:


    You may be right. So far we are playing better this season.

    Ramsey was really good in Euro 2016. However he seems to struggle to be effective in our system. I thought we shouid have sold him this summer when his value was really high and used the money to buy another forward.

    Jenks is not great. He was around playing on the first team behind Sagna for a couple seasons but arsene didn’t think he was good enough because he sent jenks away and bought Debuchy and chambers. I am not sure why arsene brought jenks back this season. I guess he didn’t want to spend money for someone to back up bellerin when he had already spent a lot of money.

  56. Orson Kaert says:

    Ramsey, Jenkinson and Gibbs were awful to night, only one positive contribution between them and that was Ramsey’s chipped pass for Giroud’s goal. Please, please, please let Cazorla, Bellerin and Monreal be fit for the NLD.

  57. Orson Kaert says:


    Jenkinson was injured during the summer and therefore unsaleable, we are stuck with him at least until the January transfer window.

  58. C says:


    It doesn’t havw to be double digits because he will contribute plenty of assists.

  59. C says:


    Watched part of that game, Barca hit the underside of the post of a couple of occasions and on another day Gundoghens goal wouldn’t have counted because Augero’s handball.

  60. C says:


    Jenk was returning from injury and just came back to fitness. Plus his last loan at West Ham prior to his injury he wasn’t great defending but could whip in a good cross.

  61. Bill says:

    Jenks could not hold his position as the starting RB at West Ham. If he isn’t good enough to hold his spot with the Hammers then I am not very excited about him playing for us. Hopefully Bellerin can stay healthy.

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