Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hailed his side's equanimity after the north Londoners came from two goals down to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with victory at Ludogorets Razgrad - but the Frenchman is fearful of the physical effects the game may have had ahead of facing Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners were two down inside a quarter of an hour but drew level before the break before Mesut Ozil netted a fine individual winner.
Jonathan Cafu volleyed Wanderson's free-kick home for his seventh goal in 10 matches to give the five-time Bulgarian league champions the lead, before turning provider to set up Claudio Keseru who capitalised on some pedestrian defending to double the lead. Granit Xhaka halved the deficit five minutes later before Olivier Giroud flicked Aaron Ramsey's cross beyond the helpless Milan Borjan.
Both sides toiled in search of a winner, with Ospina twice saving from Wanderson as the hosts chased their first win in top flight European competition. But with three minutes left Arsenal discovered the composure they badly lacked for long periods as Ozil – scorer of a hat-trick in the first group game less than a fortnight ago - latched onto Mohamed Elneny's through ball before bypassing Borjan and producing a calm finish.
With Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin all out injured, Wenger was forced to name a strong team for the game – despite having to face Tottenham in a London derby at The Emirates Stadium on Sunday [6 November]. Five changes were made from the 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland, but Wenger admits some of his Arsenal side were drained come the second period.
"I believe we were surprised by the speed of their start, we were caught cold," the Arsenal boss told BT Sport. "We kept our composure and came back to 2-2 in the first half – that was quite positive. Second half we dropped a little bit physically and were less fluent than in the first. We tried still to have a go and we got a goal close to the end.
"It was [a harsh free-kick which led to Cafu's goal] but that does not mean the free kick has to be a goal. We watched it at half time and we didn't drop off at the far post and they scored and after that on the cross we were surprised as well. We lost the ball on the right and on the cross from the left we conceded the goal. After that of course after that you're 2-0 down in the Champions League with the crowd behind their team and it becomes very difficult. They maintained the intensity today in the second half at the Emirates they dropped but today they maintained the same intensity for 90 minutes."