Arsenal played host for the first time to a Bulgarian side, Ludogorets and many expected it to be a stroll in the park for the home side. It was exactly that as the Gunners smashed six past a hapless Ludogorets team to take them to the top of group A. Alexis and Walcott scored in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain got on the scoresheet right at the start of the second. Mesut Ozil rounded off the goals with a hat trick becoming only the fifth Arsenal player to do so in a Champions League game.
Let’s take a look at the major talking points from this highly entertaining fixture:
The Gunners flexed their attacking muscles, with four different goal scorers taking their tally to twenty nine goals in all competitions this season. Alexis got the ball rolling with a sublime dink over the helpless Stoyanov. Walcott doubled the lead with a curling effort from just outside the box.
Oxlade-Chamberlain added a third in the first minute of the second half with a calm finish. Ozil made it four after running onto Cazorla’s delightful pass and slotting the ball with his right foot past Stoyanov. The German was at it again when he stroked substitute Lucas’ pass into the net. The duo combined again to cap off a sensational evening when Ozil smashed Lucas’ dinked pass into the goal. Stoyanov did get a hand on it but was beaten the sheer power of Ozil’s volley.
Last season was a season to forget for Theo Walcott. After facing immense criticism from fans and pundits alike, Walcott has been a revelation this season. He has already scored eight in all competitions and is currently the club’s leading scorer this season and is just one short of equaling last season’s tally of nine.
It is clear that Walcott’s form is key to Arsenal success this season. As long as he continues his current form, Arsenal should be considered serious contenders for major honours.
Whenever Francis Coqeulin plays, he brings a physical presence that Arsenal have been accused of not having in the past. Coquelin was crucial in breaking the Ludogorets play with nine tackles. He intercepted the ball on six occasions and was instrumental in launching counter attacks. It was evident that Arsenal missed the tenacious Frenchmen these past few weeks as he returned from injury.
Santi Cazorla’s last action in the match was a wonderfully lofted ball for Ozil’s first goal of the game. He was immediately taken off in the 56th minute, and was later seen with a bandage wrapped around his foot. Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans will be hoping it’s nothing too serious as they are already without the injured Ramsey and suspended Xhaka for the foreseeable future.
Cazorla has been pivotal to Arsenal’s good form, scoring twice in the process (both coming from the penalty spot).
Many teams that come to the Emirates adapt the tactics of ‘Parking the bus’. But credit to Ludogorets for having a go at Arsenal with a passing accuracy of 89% and the majority of the possession with 56%. All that possession did cause a few nervy moments in the home side. Ospina was called into action a couple of times but was largely untroubled for the most of the match. Ludogorets will be disappointed with the result but will have a chance to make amends when the same teams square off at the Ludogorets Arena on the 1st of November.