What a finish to the game!
Arsenal went 2-0 down after only 15 minutes, and it looked like it would be a tough night for The Gunners. Arsene Wenger said Ludogorets would look to start strongly and so it proved, as they sucker punched Arsenal and we look shell shocked after the first part of the game.
Our defending looked suspect – for the first goal Ospina was found rooted to his line as Ludogorets sent in a freekick which was converted by Barbosa when really the Arsenal keeper should have come and claimed.
For their second, Kieran Gibbs (who was otherwise excellent) was left on his arse as Cafu’s cross found Keseru in the middle to tap in from close range.
Both goals avoidable and it seemed like the Arsenal of old were coming back to haunt us – that Arsenal who would be on a decent run but then switch off in a game they thought they would easily win and end up stupidly losing.
Fortunately, this season there seems to be some real steel and character amongst the ranks.
Only 5 minutes later Arsenal came up with the perfect response, as the majestic Mesut Özil sent in a cross – most likely intended for Giroud – ended up finding Granit Xhaka in the middle. The Swiss international swept the ball home with a cool finish to give Arsenal a way back into the game.
Aaron Ramsey, who struggled all night, sent in a cross just before half time which Olivier Giroud headed into the net to make things all square going into the break.
After that, there was a lot of sparring while both teams made some half chances.
But then, something magical happened.
On 87 minutes, Arsenal substitute Mohamed Elneny sent through Mesut Özil with a wonderful pass. The German genius saw the Ludogorets keeper fly out and without breaking a sweat flicked the ball over him. Two defenders proceeded to try and stop the midfield maestro but he put them both on their arses as he delivered a series of dummies which bamboozled the defenders and cooly slotted the ball home.
Considering the game was level and a win was massively important, this goal is one of the best I’ve ever seen – and we’ve scored some wonderful goals. The confidence, ability and sheer audacity of the goal was ridiculous and I will (and have) watched the goal over and over again.
A goal of real beauty, deserving to win any football match.
David Ospina: 6/10
Struggled at times tonight and on another day, could have cost us dearly.
Carl Jenkinson: 7/10
Solid at the back and supported Ramsey whenever he could. Was a little rusty at times but played well and should be happy with his performance.
Laurent Koscielny: 8/10
Did well alongside Mustafi and looked to up the tempo whenever he could. Couldn’t be blamed for either goal and helped steady the ship once we went 2-0 down.
Shkodran Mustafi: 8/10
Another excellent performance from the German defender, Mustafi has settled well into the Arsenal team and didn’t make any mistakes tonight.
Kieran Gibbs: 8/10
Really taking advantage of Nacho Monreal’s absence and will give Arsene Wenger a real headache once the Spaniard returns. Linked up well with Sanchez on the left and never stopped running.
Francis Coquelin: 8/10
Our most composed midfielder on the night, Coquelin was excellent in keeping the ball moving and was solid in defence.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
Had a mixed game, looking bright in spells but slightly uncomfortable in others. Took one for the team with his cynical booking (we need more of those) and took his goal really well.
Aaron Ramsey: 6/10
Only started his second game for Arsenal this season and it showed. Took too many touches on the ball which slowed down Arsenal’s tempo which frustrated players such as Özil and Sanchez. A good run out for the Welshman but not his best game.
Mesut Özil: 9/10
What can you say about this man. Mesut makes me happy, and I like being happy. Kept Arsenal moving forward and provided the assist from Xhaka’s vital goal in the first half. Was full of inventive passing and movement and then with 3 minutes of normal time remaining, scored THAT goal. If Messi had scored it, social media would be going mental right now.
Alexis Sanchez: 7/10
Made way for Olivier Giroud in the middle so was played on the left hand side. Did well at times, making things happen with his running and through balls but didn’t look great on the left. Arsene Wenger was probably hoping the Giroud-Alexis combination would have worked better.
Olivier Giroud: 7/10
Just back from injury, Giroud did well in spells and scored the equalising goal. 3 goals in 110 minutes is a good return and his form will be giving Arsene Wenger a real selection headache.