Arsenal vs Ludogorets: Five things we learnt - Arsene Wenger takes Champions League seriously to trigger rout

Arsenal get away with first-half mishaps, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain recovers from horror half and Sanchez spells the end for Olivier Giroud

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The Independent Football

Wenger’s finally learnt his lesson

After six long years of finishing runner-up in the group stages, it appears that Arsene Wenger has finally set his sights on top spot. His line-ups have been understandably strong for the tests against Paris Saint-Germain and Basel, and David Ospina’s performances have certainly justified his inclusion at the expense of Petr Cech. It was the sight of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott though along Santo Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, that proved Wenger is taking nothing for granted this year.

Arsenal’s defence let off the hook

On another night against stiffer opposition, Arsenal wouldn’t have had it all their own way. Both Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny were guilty of uncharacteristic mistakes. Mustafi’s weak header allowed Jonathan Cafu to pressure David Ospina into a panicked safe, and Koscileny was caught unaware when the Brazilian snuck in behind to snatch the ball and try to round the goalkeeper. If complacency was among the Arsenal side, it was to be found in the centre-back pairing.

Touch of class shines through

While both sides had chances in the first half, it was Arsenal’s quality that shone through. Alexis Sanchez’s deftly-executed chip displayed his calmness on the ball and awareness off it to spot Stoyanov off his line, and Theo Walcott’s lovely curling effort not only demonstrated his ability to strike the ball from long range but also the confidence that is flowing through his veins. Ludogorets meanwhile had Cafu by name, but not by nature as the Brazilian missed two chances to get the Bulgarians on level terms.

Oxlade-Chamberlain puts horror half behind him

As performances go, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first-half showing was dreadful. He turned down an effort on goal to play in Walcott – the correct decision – only to play the ball too hard in front of the winger and kill off the chance. He then also held onto possession for far too long when the crowd urged him to shoot inside the area, and his dropped shoulders afterwards said it all. Credit to him, then, for coming out in the second half to add the third after just 90 seconds. Yes, it wasn’t the hardest chance of his career, but he showed composure to place the ball beyond Stoyanov’s reach.

Whatever Wenger says, Giroud’s time is up

Having spent Tuesday afternoon stressing that Olivier Giroud will come back into this side when he’s recovered from injury, tonight displayed why that simply isn’t the case. He may be afforded the odd FA Cup appearance, but he will be playing second fiddle to Sanchez, and even Lucas looks to offer more around the box than Giroud can. At 30 years old, Giroud shouldn’t be looking to make up the numbers on the Arsenal bench.

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