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Ludogorets visit marks first for Arsenal

Arsenal have not faced Bulgarian opponents before on the UEFA stage and the visit of Ludogorets Razgrad gives them the opportunity to extend their unbeaten start in Group A.

Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring Arsenal's opening goal against Basel
Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring Arsenal's opening goal against Basel ©Getty Images

Arsenal FC take on Bulgarian opponents for the first time in UEFA competition looking to maintain their unbeaten start with a second win, while PFC Ludogorets Razgrad seek a belated lift-off for their Group A challenge.

Match background

• The Gunners began their 19th successive group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Paris Saint-Germain where Olivier Giroud was sent off in added time. They then beat FC Basel 1893 at home with an early pair of Theo Walcott goals.

• In each of the last six seasons Arsenal have fallen in the round of 16, going down 5-1 on aggregate to FC Barcelona in 2015/16 (0-2 home, 1-3 away). In their group home matches last term they first lost 3-2 to Olympiacos FC before beating FC Bayern München 2-0 and GNK Dinamo Zagreb 3-0.

• The Barcelona reverse means Arsenal have lost seven and won eight of their last 16 home games in the competition proper.

• Their only previous visit to England ended in a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool FC in the 2014/15 group stage, their only previous appearance at this stage.

• Dani Abalo equalised in added time (90+1) only for Steven Gerrard to pop up with the winner from the penalty spot two minutes later. Ludogorets lost all three away games in that campaign.

• The reverse fixture with Liverpool ended 2-2, a key result as the Reds failed to reach the round of 16.

• Ludogorets' second UEFA Champions League group stage campaign began with a 1-1 draw in Basel. Two weeks later they lost 3-1 at home to Paris – in both games they had taken the lead before being pegged back.

• After winning the Bulgarian title for the fifth season in a row, Ludogorets scored 15 goals in the qualifying campaign to book their return to the group stage.

• They first beat FK Mladost Podgorica 2-0 at home and 3-0 away. Against FK Crvena zvezda they followed a 2-2 draw at home with a 4-2 extra-time win away. Wanderson scored three of the goals in the away leg.

• In the play-offs a 2-0 home win over FC Viktoria Plzeň set up a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Coach and player links
• Claidiu Keșerü was a team-mate of Laurent Koscielny and Giroud at French second division side Tours FC in 2008/09.

• Igor Plastun and Lucas Pérez were team-mates at Ukrainian side FC Karpaty Lviv during 2012/13.

Match facts

• Olivier Giroud is available after serving a one-game ban on matchday two.

• Arsenal are ten matches unbeaten since the 4-3 loss to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

• The Gunners had not conceded in 409 minutes prior to Gylfi Sigurdsson's effort for Swansea City FC in Saturday's 3-2 victory for the Gunners.

• Alexis Sánchez has scored five goals in his last eight outings for Arsenal.

• Giroud suffered a recurrence of his foot problem on duty with France and is expected to be sidelined until the end of the month.

• Aaron Ramsey has not played since the opening day of the season because of a hamstring problem.

• Granit Xhaka captained Switzerland for the first time as they won 2-1 in Andorra on 10 October in the European Qualifiers. He was sent off against Swansea.

• Alex Iwobi scored his first international goal with a volley as Nigeria won 2-1 in Zambia on 9 October in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. Nacho Monreal won his first cap in three years as Spain beat Albania 2-0 the same day.

• Arsène Wenger marked 20 years as Arsenal boss on 1 October.

• Captain Per Mertesacker is not in Arsenal's group stage squad because of a knee injury. A similar problem is likely to keep Danny Welbeck out until 2017.

• Natanael is a yellow card away from a one-match ban.

• The Bulgarian champions are seven matches unbeaten away from home.

• Ludogorets have kept one clean sheet in their last ten outings, conceding 13 goals in that time.

• Ludogorets have lost just one of their last 12 matches in all competitions, winning eight of them.

• Jonathan Cafú has scored five goals in his last six appearances.