Only in action three days ago, Arsenal continue to plough through the fixture congestion with another match, this time in the Champions League versus Ludogorets.
The corresponding fixture at The Emirates saw a hatful of goals for the Gunners, and the 6-0 scoreline will see the Bulgarian champions keen to avoid such a massacre in front of their own fans.
Mesut Ozil was the architect that night, scoring his first hat-trick in professional football, and the German will be at the forefront of Arsenal’s pursuit of top spot in the group.
With such a large amount of matches, the team sheet will no doubt see changes – especially as the weekend’s Premier League game is the North London Derby. Arsene Wenger will no doubt have one eye on this game, but he has ample players at his disposal and rotation should mean both games can be tackled with confidence.
Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud made their welcome returns from injury last week, and both could start this game, as their positional rivals have played three games in a week. Alexis Sanchez and Mohamed Elneny may just miss out as over-exertion could be an issue, or Francis Coquelin could be benched. The centre of midfield is hotly contested, with those three plus Granit Xhaka vying for roles – the Swiss international has seen out his three match ban and will be looking to play as soon as possible.
There are injury doubts however. Santi Cazorla had a fitness test in the weekend and didn’t travel with the squad, and Theo Walcott is another who was left home in order to keep fitness levels topped up and injuries fully healed.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has deputised well in Walcott’s absence, and he seems to have found consistency to ally with his tremendous talent. He should retain his place in the side, as well as Alex Iwobi. Carl Jenkinson made his first appearance of the season in last weeks EFL Cup win over Reading, and he may just get the nod over Hector Bellerin – such is the Spaniard’s importance to the team and the fact that Wenger intimated in his press conference that he may well be rested.
David Ospina will continue as the club’s Champions League goalkeeper, and Nacho Monreal has returned to full fitness, although Kieran Gibbs should keep his place.
So many players to choose from, which means Wenger can shuffle accordingly and put out teams for the hotly contested London derby on Saturday, as well as this fixture in Sofia that will have a huge bearing on who nabs that important top spot in the group.
Even with all of these prospective changes, it is testament to Arsenal’s strength in depth that all positions have more than adequate cover, which allows a breather for the game changers in the team.
Ludogorets, despite the first fixture ending in humiliating defeat, are no pushovers, and will be looking for revenge. They have some players who can cause real damage, and Jonathan Cafu will be looking to add a few extra zero’s to his potential transfer figure.
The Gunners have maintained their excellent run, but Gooners are painfully aware that November usually brings an annual dose of misery – it is Wenger’s least successful month on average.
Can Arsenal end their November hoodoo? Can they continue to go toe-to-toe with PSG in the pursuit of their Champions League group top spot?
This season shows no sign of slowing down, and the action continues tonight!
Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud.
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal.