Arsenal host Premier League hi-flyers Watford at the Emirates, with Unai Emery’s side looking to leapfrog the Hornets to climb up to fourth on the table.
Arsenal’s response to their two defeats in their first two games has seen the side record four wins on the spin and six overall in all competitions. Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Everton helped Arsenal climb up to sixth place on the Premier League table, but a win over fourth-placed Watford would ensure the Gunners are in Champions League places.
Those wins certainly do not mean Arsenal have been a consistent side. In fact, its the opposite, with a shaky defence and near drop moments; yet the Gunners have sailed through rough waters as they seem to be slowly adapting to Unai Emery’s new ways to tune this team into winners.
However, no matter how much frustrating inconsistency the Gunners might have shown in defence, they have equally flourished as an attacking unit. Arsenal have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven games in all competition, and it is this goalscoring form that will prevail more often than not should they continue to score goals at the rate with which they are netting currently.
Watford have had a magnificent start to the season, winning their first four games of the season. However, since the return of Premier League action after the International break, the Hornets are seemingly off the pace they set before it. In the first game after the break, Watford lost to Manchester United at home which also ended their 100% start to the season, and then drawing their match against Fulham last weekend, despite being in the lead.
Against Arsenal, they face a test of character under Javi Gracia, as Watford look to hit back with a win and keep their momentum going which has been somewhat shaky over the last two matchdays. But they are set to face an in-form Arsenal side at the Emirates, and they very well know how much of a difficulty it would be to beat the Gunners on their turf.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery will be looking to get his best team on the pitch to close down the threat of posed by the Hornets. In this process, the Spaniard is likely to make a host of changes from the side that played against Brentford during their midweek Carabao Cup clash.
Among those would be reinstating Petr Cech as the starting goalkeeper after the veteran’s man of the match performance against Everton the last time out.
Injured defender Sokratis is also likely to return after what was feared could be an injury turned out to be a dead leg. His inclusion means sending Rob Holding back to the bench as Sokratis would partner Shkodran Mustafi in the middle of the defence. Hector Bellerin could also return after being rested for the Carabao Cup tie and will replace Stephan Lichtstenier who has had good performances in the two games he started.
Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka are set to return to the starting fold, as Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi will make way for the duo in the team. Danny Welbeck, who’s been in hot form lately will also be sent back to the bench to accommodate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, as the strike duo will have Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back in the side for support.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Cech; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Watford boss Javi Gracia has injury and suspension concerns of his own. The hi-flying hornets will likely miss Daryl Janmaat after the right-back injured his knee and is likely to be sidelined until November. The Dutchman’s injury will pave the way for Marc Navvaro to fill in at the right-back position for the coming few games.
Troy Deeney who picked up a knock against Fulham, will likely return and rekindle his rivalry with Arsenal, as he had also had a penalty saved at the Emirates last season. However, Christian Kabasele could miss the Arsenal clash due to the red card he received against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup, and after an unsuccessful appeal, he remains suspended.
Despite all those concerns Javi Gracia has a side capable of getting them a result and will field his strongest possible lineup against the Gunners including Doucoure, Capoue, Gray and Deeney.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2) – Foster; Navvaro, Cathcart Mariappa, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Gray, Deeney
- Arsenal and Watford will play just for the 29th time with the Gunners winning 15 and losing 12 so far.
- Watford, on the other hand, have defeated Arsenal only twice in the last 10 Premier League games they have played.
- It would be the first time Watford are facing the Gunners with a more superior position in the Premier League table since 1984.
- Arsenal have also failed to score in only two of their last 36 Premier League home games.
- Watford have lost 16 of their last 16 away games against Premier League ‘Big Six’ sides.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.57
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.66
3. Over 10.5 Corners @ 1.80
1. Andre Gray to score anytime @ 3.40
Player To Watch
The French striker has been in hot goalscoring form after netting in his last two games, a solid strike against Everton and against Brentford he came off the bench to score Arsenal’s third. Lacazette is getting back to the form he showed at Lyon and could become a more important player for Arsenal in the coming weeks if he continued how he has been playing.
Additionally, his budding partnership with Aubameyang is on the rise, as both players seem to compliment each other than rivalling for goalscoring honours. Their consistency on the pitch, should it continue, will take Arsenal to their objective of finishing in the top four come to the end of the season.
Against Watford, Lacazette has the perfect opportunity to showcase his importance, possibly with another goal and three points for the Gunners.
Arsenal 3-1 Watford.
Arsenal did miraculously register a clean sheet against Everton last weekend, but that could be down to luck and an in-form Petr Cech. However, that kind of form cannot be expected from Cech, while the Arsenal defence continues to be inconsistent, something that is not going to change overnight against Watford, meaning the Gunners are likely to concede against the hi-flying Hornets side.
Despite a leaky defence, Arsenal have relied on their strength in attack to win all of the last six games they have played. The strikeforce of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ably supported creatively by Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi will be able to see through the Watford side with the Gunners expected to score plenty of goals. That said, Arsenal are likely to win this one with a decent scoreline.