Arsenal v Ludogorets: Walcott can maintain run against Bulgarians

Theo Walcott has been in fine fettle for Arsenal this term
Theo Walcott has been in fine fettle for Arsenal this term

Gunners winger Theo Walcott is in a rich vein of form and can help Arsenal to victory over the Bulgarian champions at the Emirates on Wednesday night, says Jack Lang...


"Key to Arsenal's form has been consistency of selection: Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi especially have clearly benefited from starting week in, week out"

Arsenal v Ludogorets
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 3


Arsenal

The form table makes pretty good reading for Arsenal fans at present: the Gunners are unbeaten since the first game of the season and have won six Premier League matches on the spin. In Europe, too, they have made a solid start to the campaign, picking up four points from meetings with Paris Saint-Germain and Basel. Little surprise, then, that confidence within the squad is sky-high.

Key to their form has been consistency of selection: the backline has been resolute since Shkodran Mustafi's arrival, Alexis Sanchez has impressed up front and the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi have clearly benefited from starting week in, week out.

If they can keep it up, Arsenal can expect to be in the conversation when silverware is dished out at the end of the season.


Ludogorets

The Bulgarians are relative newcomers to continental competition - they first made the Europa League proper in 2013/14 and reached the group stage of the Champions League a season later - but have rarely been overwhelmed by the big occasion: they have taken points from PSV Eindhoven, Lazio and Liverpool in the last few seasons and tested Real Madrid in Sofia two years ago.

The Eagles ran Basel close in their Group A opener (a 1-1 draw) and might have picked up three points were it not for a late goalkeeping error by Vladislav Stoyanov. They then took the lead against PSG, only for the Ligue 1 champions to dig in and emerge 3-1 winners. In both games, Ludogorets' goalscorer was Brazilian - perhaps no great surprise given theirs is a squad packed with foreign imports.

Many of those players see the Champions League as a shop window. Now, away against Arsenal, they have a great chance to catch the eye.


Match Odds

Given their recent form, it is no shock that Arsenal are heavy favourites at 1.162/13. The hosts will see these back-to-back games against Ludogorets as a chance to take command of the group and - depending on how PSG fare against Basel - perhaps lay the foundations for a little rotation in the final matches of the section.

Ludogorets' only away wins in the Champions League have come against modest opponents, so 26.025/1 reflects their status as underdogs, while the draw is as long as 9.28/1. This market doesn't hold great appeal.


Half-time/Full-time

Arsenal have been fast starters this season, especially against weaker opposition. Wenger's charges led at half-time in wins over Watford, Hull, Basel and Swansea, and also notched before the break against Chelsea, Southampton and Liverpool.

Ludogorets stunned PSG with an early goal but Unai Emery's side were fragile at the time and the Gunners will be a different kettle of fish. If you fancy the hosts to win, Arsenal/Arsenal is an option at the more backable price of 1.528/15.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Arsenal have been potent in attack this term and will be hopeful of having some joy against a side that has managed just one clean sheet in ten. But odds of 1.4740/85 on the overs do not hold great appeal.

Instead, it may be worth playing the contrarian in the Both Teams to Score market. Arsenal may have recorded three shut-outs in a row before the weekend but there were signs of fragility against Swansea. More significantly, Ludogorets are a fairly potent attacking force: they have failed to score in just three of 33 competitive games since the turn of the year.

Consider backing them to join Arsenal on the scoresheet at 2.466/4 or back Arsenal to win with both teams scoring at 21/10 on the Sportsbook.


To Score

It's hard to look past Walcott, who is in the form of his life for his club (if not for his country). The winger has seven goals - as many as he managed over the whole of the 2015/16 campaign - in nine appearances so far this season and is clearly enjoying his partnership with Hector Bellerin on Arsenal's right flank.

He is not a faultless finisher - he should have scored four against Swansea on Saturday but had to make do with two - but there are few more direct threats when his tail is up. Take the 6/5 available on the Sportsbook.


Recommended Bets

Back Arsenal/Arsenal HT/FT at 1.528/15
Back Theo Walcott to score at 6/5


For the reverse fixture please please our Ludogorets v Arsenal Betting Preview.

Jack Lang's Champions League P/L, 2016/17

Staked: 5pts
Returned: 5.49pts
P/L: +0.49pts

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