Arsenal set to rotate squad for Ludogorets


On to the next one, on to the next.

6 wins from 6, next up to face The Arsenal Juggernaut is Ludogorets of Bulgaria. And we can fully expect Arsene Wenger to shuffle his squad to keep players fresh.

According to UEFA’s coefficient points ranking, Ludogorets are the 3rd worst team in this years Champions League. Only Copenhagen and Rostov are ranked worse. UEFA rank them worse than awful teams such as Legia Warsaw, Celtic and Spurs.

Half their side are Bulgarian cow farmers, and they plan to go to Wickes in Edmonton to pick up the rest of their players, offering £30 a day. Cash.

Let’s be honest, it should be a walk over (or will probably eat these words and have loads of opposing fans tweeting this blog to me when we lets slip a 2-0 win). And that is why Arsene Wenger is likely to rotate his squad.

Cup keeper David Ospina is likely to keep his Champions League place. Unlike last year when he decided to catch the ball then carry it into his own net (was he ever investigate for betting irregularities?), he has actually performed well in the Champions League this year. A MOTM performance against PSG followed by a clean sheet against Basel. I could play in goal against Ludogorets and keep a clean sheet. In fact I would not be surprised if I face their players in 5-a-side at Chingford Goals on Thursday.

Carl Jenkinson is nearing full fitness, but a return against Ludogorets might be a little early, too much of a risk. He will be pencilled in for the League Cup (is it still called that?) tie at home to Reading. Hector Bellerin will continue in the side.

At centreback, I expect one to be rested and rotated. I do not think Wenger will be tempted to leave both Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi out. Taking into account Koscileny’s previous injury record with his back and achilles, a mid week break will do him now harm. Expect Mustafi to partner Gabriel.

As discussed at the weekend, Nacho Monreal is struggling. Kieran Gibbs will be given the chance to force his way back into the first team.

With Granit Xhaka set to be suspended for 3 games, the Swiss hardman will get a start in the Champions League. I am sure in Wenger’s mid-term planning he would have scheduling the game against the cow farmers as one for Xhaka to miss, but circumstances mean it is now pointless resting him.

Alongside Xhaka will be either Francis Coquelin or Mohamed Elneny. Both were probably likely to start tonight, but Xhaka’s suspension leaves space for just one. It will be whoever Wenger plans to play instead of Xhaka in the next couple of games. My money is on Elneny as it is only Middlesbrough at home this weekend. Cazorla will be able to give a rest to his tiny but talented feet.

At the top of the triangle, Wenger will play Mesut Ozil. When a player of his quality and fitness is in the type of form he is in, you just leave him in the side. And with no Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere, and Santi Cazorla and Alex Iwobi in need for a rest, Ozil will play.

Wenger is likely to give a rest to Alex Iwobi on the left hand side. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be given the chance to show he still has a future at Arsenal after his Goals on Sunday interview.

On the right hand side, expect Theo Walcott to start. With Alexis Sanchez upfront. I only say this because I have just looked at the official pictures of Arsenal training ahead of the Ludogorets game and both are wearing a green bib. Olivier Giroud is not yet fully fit, although he is back in full training – expect him and Aaron Ramsey to start against Read – and Lucas Perez seems to have gone AWOL. Where Perez has gone is maybe another blog.


Arsenal XI v Ludogorets

Bellerin Mustafi Gabriel Gibbs
Xhaka Elneny
Walcott Ozil Ox




1 thought on “Arsenal set to rotate squad for Ludogorets

  1. Atid

    Cazorla chamberlain and perez have just had 2 weeks rest, not playing any international football, whereas ozil, alexis, walcott and iwobi all played in 2 internationals as well as matches either side. Bellerin too played 4 matches in that time, whereas Debuchy hasn’t played any. Elneny got game time too with Egypt, whereas coquelin didn’t play.

    If I was wenger I would look at who has played the least amount of minutes for club and country combined, check their fitness and injuries and then play a side that can beat ludogrets, having a decent well rested bench and a few more completely rested for boro.

    We have a 29 man first team squad, ramsey, giroud, Welbeck, mertesacker, sanogo and akpom, should be the only ones completely ruled out. Obviously Martinez is only 3Rd choice keeper, but the remaining 22 should all be under consideration, with at least 4 of the starting x1 for boro left out completely.

    I would have no problem if bellerin was omitted completely and also one of koscielny and mustafi. I think xhaka should definitely play as he will be starting suspension and also coquelin. For this match I would tinker slightly with the formation and go 433. Dropping ozil, and alexis to the bench with Cech.

    I would go with this

    Debuchy Mustafi Gabriel Gibbs
    Elneny coquelin xhaka
    Walcott perez chamberlain

    Cech, Jenkinson, Holding, Monreal, Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis

    I would start this x1 against boro
    Bellerin mustafi koscielny Monreal
    Coquelin Cazorla
    Walcott ozil iwobi

    Ospina, jenkinson, Gabriel, Gibbs, elneny, chamberlain, perez

    And this against reading

    Jenkinson Holding Gabriel Gibbs
    Elneny zelalem
    Perez ramsey chamberlain

    Macey, Debuchy, Bielik, sheaf, Niles, Adelaide, mavididi or willock

    That is squad rotation.


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