Watford are easy pickings… but can Arsenal do easy?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Watford – Premier League – 31.01.2017
Arsenal sailed emphatically into the next round of the FA Cup with a crushing 5-0 win over Southampton at the weekend. Their next opponents in the world’s oldest cup competition is minnows Sutton United. The Arsenal manager will be thankful of such an opponent given the match is scheduled for after our match against FC Bayern as rotation will be necessary.
Rotation has helped keep Arsenal’s squad relatively fit this season and despite a few disappointing results the Gunners sit in second place with an opportunity to close the gap on the leaders when they face Chelsea this weekend.
Precisely because of Arsenal’s match against Conte’s title challengers it is important to pick up all three points tonight in convincing fashion. Watford are struggling at the moment and Arsenal seem to be the team who gives the most hope to the league’s battlers. Middlesbrough have managed to hold Arsenal to a draw and it has taken late goals to overcome the likes of Burnley. Three points is worth the same no matter the manner achieved but for momentum’s sake Wenger’s team must make tonight a routine victory.
It would be a lie to say I am not concerned about this fixture as Arsenal have form in self-inflicted wounds and the manager has a bit of a selection quandary.
The four main heroes of the FA Cup win are unlikely to make the starting line-up so the confidence gained from that match may not carry through. Welbeck and Walcott will probably feature as subs but I am certain the manager will see starting them for a second match in four days so soon after their return from injury as risky. It seems Lucas cannot buy a start despite his impressive contributions all season but I am hopeful he gets the nod tonight.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed in central midfield but it may be too risky to gamble on him in a high stakes Premier League match. This leaves just Ramsey and Coquelin for our midfield axis; a partnership that has looked disjointed and lacking in creativity every time they have featured. Watford, like every other bottom half side that comes to the Emirates, will defend deep so getting the ball through midfield to Mesut will be vital to our success.
However, Alexis Sanchez is in line for a straight recall to the starting eleven and he has scored against Watford in each of his previous three games against the Hornets.
If the Ramsey-Coquelin partnership can get their act together then this should be an easy win. But we’re Arsenal and we rarely do easy…
Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Iwobi, Özil, Alexis, Giroud.
I expect to see substitute appearances from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Welbeck.
“We’ve never had so many players who could perform and score goals” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Watford 1-3 Arsenal (27.08.2016)
- Arsenal 4-0 Watford (02.04.2016)
- Arsenal 1-2 Watford (13.03.2016)
Watford have been tumbling down the table but Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri has cut loose some of the deadwood and used the funds he raised from selling Odion Ighalo for a ludicrous £20m to bolster the squad. Watford have moved for AC Milan attacker M’Baye Niang on loan and ex-Birmingham City and West Ham forward, Mauro Zarate.
Watford are a real test of Arsenal’s concentration. If the players are looking ahead to the match against Chelsea they will leave this one with egg on their face. Watford are fighting to stay in the league and even though they’ve not won in seven matches they’ll grow into this match if we don’t kill them off early.
- Arsenal have won their last seven league matches against Watford, scoring 19 goals.
- Watford beat the Gunners 2-1 at the Emirates in last season’s FA Cup quarter-final tie.
- Arsenal have gone seven home league matches in a row without conceding a goal from open play – all four goals against them in that period have been penalties.
- Watford are enduring a seven-game winless run in the Premier League (D3, L4). The Hornets failed to score in four of those games.
- Arsenal last top-flight loss to Watford was in April 1988, a 1-0 loss at Highbury.
- The Gunners have won five successive home matches in the Premier League and are unbeaten in 10 at the Emirates Stadium since losing to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season.
- Watford could go winless in their opening five league matches of a calendar year for the first time since 2002, when they were in the second tier.
- Wenger’s side have scored an unrivalled six goals in the 90th minute or stoppage time this season, and have also managed a league-high 12 goals in the 80th minute or later.
- The Hornets haven’t won a non-weekend Premier League fixture in 12 attempts since beating Portsmouth 4-2 in April 2007 (D2, L10).
- Alexis Sanchez has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against Watford.
- Heurelho Gomes has conceded 23 goals in eight Premier League games against Arsenal, nine more than any other team he has faced.
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
4-0 to Arsenal. I think we’ll win big again with a strong showing from our front three.
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