Arsenal v Ludogorets: The Inside Track

Arsenal v Ludogorets: The Inside Track

By Rob Kelly THE QUOTE “We have to show that we are an ambitious team with an ambitious squad, and that we can turn up in every single game.” – Arsène Wenger THE PREVIEW With his side in the middle of a hot streak, Arsène Wenger faces a dilemma ahead of their latest Champions League assignment. After six successive Premier League victories, does he stick or twist when it comes to his starting XI? Does shuffle the pack that has served him so well, or keep the faith in a team that is beating all before it domestically? Follow our LIVE coverage on Pictures: See how the boys prepared for Wednesday’s game Team news: Latest on Giroud and Ramsey The back-to-back games against the Bulgarians offer a tantalising opportunity to the Gunners to take a stranglehold on Group A and put concerted pressure on their biggest rivals for top spot, Paris Saint-Germain. Should Arsenal win both ties, and they will be heavy favourites to do so against a team that has never won away from home in the Champions League, they will be in the driving seat to clinch first place. It is a significant motivating factor, and Wenger is convinced that whoever lines up on Wednesday night will be able to keep this run going – as long as they maintain their focus. “You keep stability and you look at just winning the next game,” the manager said. “We’ve won six [Premier League] games in a row, but it was not always the same team that won. At the moment I am just looking at how players recover, what is the next game and how we can win the next game. “We play three home games this week and we are maybe the favourites in every single game, or expected to win every game. “We know as well, and we learnt on Saturday against Swansea, that as soon as you ease off a little bit you’re in trouble because the differences between teams is very small. “Ludogorets have lots of experience in the Champions League now and I watched the game against Paris Saint-Germain. They are a very good side. “What sometimes look like kind fixtures can turn out to be very difficult if we don’t prepare mentally. We have to show that we are an ambitious team with an ambitious squad, and show that we can turn up in every single game.” ONE TO WATCH One man has dominated the headlines this week in the wake of yet another outstanding performance: Theo Walcott. The Arsenal forward has looked a man reborn this season, and his two goals against Swansea – while not his most eye-catching – speak volumes about the improvements he has made to his game.
Team news
Arsenal: Giroud , Ramsey , Mertesacker, Welbeck Ludogorets: None

The first, in which he muscled aside Jordi Amat to poke home at the near post, showcased the extra layer of physicality he has added to his game. It was again in evidence for the second, as he forced his way into space in the box and fired in from close range. Walcott now has seven goals in all competitions, and Wenger believes a change is mentality is paying dividends for the England international. “What I’ve seen of him is that he lets the passion for the game come out of his body. That’s what you want from him,” the manager said. “I’ve felt that since he’s played with more freedom, maybe he lets his feelings come out a bit more and is less calculating – ‘can I do that or can I not do that?’ “He plays with more freedom and more desire. I think he has a less restricted attitude and that shows you that he is a completely different player.” THE OPPOSITION The Gunners head into the unknown on Wednesday…

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