Arsenal travelled to Bulgaria for their Champions League fixture against Ludogorets, in the fourth match of the Champions League. Arsenal were without Walcott, Monreal and Bellerin due to injuries while Giroud was back as a central striker with Alexis on the left. Xhaka was back in midfield, as Ramsey was back, and surprisingly on the right for Arsenal.
In what seemed to be an easy fixture for Arsenal, a shaky start saw Ludogorets score two goals in quick succession and take a shocking 2-0 lead within fifteen minutes of kick-off. Arsenal came up with the first goal through Xhaka’s tidy first-touch finish from short range and then equalized towards the end of the first-half with a classic Giroud header. The second-half saw a lot of tensed moments for both the teams but it was Ozil’s wonderfully worked goal in the 88th minute that cemented Arsenal’s place in the next round.
So let’s look at Arsenal’s top performers and pick our ‘Man of the Match’ for today’s game.
A) Alexis Sanchez
Alexis was back on the left, and worked hard on the ball as he tried to create space for himself to get more opportunities. Giroud took the solitary striker role, which saw Sanchez become more isolated on the wings but he was till effective. He did not get the goal he was expected to produce, but he affected the game positively with his attacks.
B) Mesut Ozil
Ozil started the match with his usual skill and composure but was somewhat disappointed by Arsenal trailing. He was involved in Arsenal’s early build up play and it was his ball from the left that fell to Xhaka, who finished for Arsenal’s first. Arsenal were constantly testing a solid Ludogorets defence throughout the course of the match and Ozil was usually the architect.
The fans had to wait for the 88th minute to witness a magical goal from Ozil who worked the keeper and glided past two defenders to clinch the winner. The goal will surely book a contender for the ‘Goal of the Season’ for Arsenal.
C) Olivier Giroud
His vital cameo against Sunderland on Saturday earned Giroud a spot up front. This was his first start following a toe injury. Giroud showed good movement in the opposition half and caused problems with his physical ability. He beat the defender to win Ramsey’s cross, to get Arsenal back into the game. He was active off the ball and went forward to create as many opportunities as possible. He looks fit now and will be looking forward to a place in the North London Derby at the weekend.
Verdict: This fixture’s Man of the Match is none other than the wizard himself, Mesut Ozil. His impact on the game was massive and Arsenal fans will hope that he remains in this form and keeps contributing to Arsenal’s cause.
Arsenal came from behind to clinch this invigorating fixture, and will now be preparing for the North London Derby on Sunday. Wenger will have a lot of decisions to make regarding the squad with players expected to return from injuries.
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