Arsenal had to weather a storm in the first half of last nights match against Ludogrets despite Alexis’ early goal, as the Bulgarians played some excellent football in the first half and could have made it hard for us if it wasn’t for yet another excellent performance from David Ospina.
Ospina was one of just four changes from the Swansea game with the recovered Coquelin, Gibbs and Oxlade-chamberlain brought in to rest the newboy Granit Xhaka, misfiring Nacho Monreal, and the overworked Alex Iwobi.
Wenger also made some excellent substitutions when we were clear in front with Cazorla, Alexis and our second goalscorer in the first half Theo Walcott all allowed a little rest with Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough in mind. Lucas seemed to be Walcott’s replacement while Ozil moved into the centre-forward position to see if he could answer Wenger’s challenge to score more goals.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given an unusual full 90 minutes and he rewarded Wenger’s faith in him by scoring the third goal just after the break. Whether this was Wenger’s response to The Ox’s words this week remains to be seen but it will do wonders for the Englishman’s confidence.
After that it was the Mesut Ozil show with the German superstar scoring his first ever hat-trick and we made the poor Bulgarians look like a tired Championship side. Arsene Wenger gave our opponents credit for their display in the first half. Le Prof said after the game: “In the first half it looked like a difficult game because they were dangerous going forward. They had good technique in short spaces, they are quick on the counter-attack and it was not easy. We took complete control of the game in the second half and we could’ve score more because they had given a lot in the first half. They suffered a little bit physically in the second half.
“We scored early and maybe we eased off a bit too early. It’s funny because the more goals we scored, the better we defended. In the first half it’s true that we were sometimes in danger with runs coming from deep. The strikers came into midfield, flooded the midfield and got them out of pressure. Then we were in trouble twice. We’d like to give credit to Ospina who saved us twice with very important saves.
“The confidence is high, we have a good balance at the moment in the team and maybe it’s because we’ve been making more of our chances. The final ball is better. Is that because our finishing is better? It’s difficult to analyse at the moment, but what is for sure is that we score more goals. We score lots of goals. That’s what our game is about. We have a risky game and therefore it’s important that we take our chances.
“In this game, a lot is linked with confidence as well and I feel that because we’re winning game after game, the confidence is high. Maybe when we get into these dodgy periods, there’s less psychological damage. What you want is to get them out as well.”
After winning our 7th game in a row we can see that the confidence is amazing. At last we are going into games knowing that we have the ability to blow teams away. We did it to Chelsea, who are always a bogey team, we beat another bogey team in Swansea, and we have now scored six of the best to go top of our group and give added confidence that we can finish top ahead of PSG. We will be playing Ludogorets again in our next Group game and they will be feeling very scared after seeing the way we played today.
The atmosphere in the dressing room must be fantastic and our bench is fantastic, with Lucas Perez playing half an hour and getting an assist and Elneny stepping in to cover Cazorla with little problem.
The future is bright, the future is Red and White!
COYG and congrats to Wenger for getting the teams, tactics and substitutions perfect tonight.