CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: ARSENAL 6-LUDOGORETS 0 GUNNERS SMASH BULGARIAN SIDE AT EMIRATES
Arsenal ruthlessly swept aside Bulgarian Champions Ludogorets with a six goal haul on Wednesday night to remain undefeated in their Champions League campaign.
Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all scored before Mesut Ozil lit up the Emirates Stadium with a sublime second-half hat-trick two of which were assisted by substitute Spanish striker Lucas Perez.
Olivier Giroud is close to returning after a month out but is there a risk he will upset the applecart? An interesting aspect of his absence has been the effect on Mesut Ozil, who has been afforded more space higher up the pitch and licensed to attack goal more frequently.
His hat-trick on Wednesday night took him to six for the season, well on his way to beating his Arsenal record of eight. Aside from the finishing, his touch from a Carzola long ball ahead of his first was rather special.
Arsenal need to do whatever is necessary to keep Alexis Sanchez. His £140,000-a-week contract is up in 18 months and there is far less optimism of a renewal than in the identical case of Mesut Ozil.
Sanchez’s finish for the first goal here was not only stunning, but also indicative of his importance to this team – Arsenal’s first four goals in this year’s Champions League all directly involved the Chilean, who has scored twice and made two others.
There seems to be a certain comfort of home for Arsenal in this competition. They have now won 31 of their past 40 European games at the Emirates Stadium, with only three defeats and six draws among them.
The goals just seem to come easily at this ground, with Arsenal having scored at least twice in each of their last nine Champions League games here, with an impressive six clean sheets in that sequence.
Theo Walcott’s resurgence is really quite remarkable. Aside from his woeful contribution to England’s cause recently, he is having the best season of his career. The numbers are brilliant, with his first-half goal on Wednesday night taking his tally to eight in 10 starts in all competitions, including seven in seven games.
Not bad for someone starting on the right wing. The fact he missed reasonably simply chances here and against Swansea at the weekend would suggest he could still get better in this exceptional campaign.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has an impressive sense of timing. Three days before this game he went on Goals on Sunday and suggested he will consider his future if his playing time doesn’t increase.
Arsene Wenger gave the impression at his press conference on Tuesday that he knew exactly what had been said and put the ball back in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s court with a challenge to prove himself. The 23-year-old’s responded with a goal and an assist. Challenge accepted.
Arsenal now sit atop of Group A with 7points with closest rival being PSG on 2nd on goal difference following Basel Win.