We return to Champions League action against Ludogorets on Wednesday, and ahead of the game Michael Cox analyses their strengths and dangermen.
Coach Georgi Dermendziev has assembled an organised side committed to playing out from the back, and while his team will spend much of the game on the back foot, they are capable of some fine spells of passing.
Having played the same XI in their first two matches, a 1-1 draw at Basel and a 3-1 home defeat home to PSG, they also appear to have a settled side.
Ludogorets are likely to use a 4-2-3-1 formation. Both full-backs are attack-minded: right-sided Yordan Minev is a veteran at 35 but still capable of shuttling up and down the touchline, although left-back Natanael Pimienta should push forward more.
The two central midfielders are solid. Svetoslav Dyakov captains the Bulgarian national side and will probably play as the deepest midfielder with most responsibility for shutting down Mesut Ozil, while Anicet Andrianantenaina Abel (unsurprisingly usually shortened to simply Anicet) naturally breaks forward more, but will probably be instructed to hold his position here.
Against PSG, it was notable that goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov always looked to pass the ball short, generally towards wide positions. This is a reflection upon the defenders’ quality in possession, although also a recognition that Ludogorets lack anything like a target man.
Those two centre backs, Cosmin Moti and Jose Luis Palomino, provide a nice right-left balance when Ludogorets are looking to play forward from the back, although are also solid defensively. Their willingness to bring the ball forward allows the side to push up
Marcelinho, the No 10, is a classic Brazilian playmaker who drifts in and out of games but is capable of moments of brilliance. When he’s not seeing much of the ball, he is intelligent enough to drop deep and help the two deeper midfielders get a grip on the game.
Areas to target
Ludogorets are a noticeably short team. Their centre- forward, Jonathan Cafu, is a converted winger, and overall only the centre backs above 5ft 11in. Usually Arsenal attempt to outplay opponents with their technical football, but here their physicality could prove more crucial - in that respect, the Bulgarians might struggle to compete.
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