Arsenal vs Watford
Venue: The Emirates
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Watford travel to the Emirates this Saturday with both teams in good form for what could be an interesting encounter in this 6th vs 4th battle. Arsenal have won their last four league games and are now sixth in the table after recovering from losing their opening two games to Man City and Chelsea.
Despite this, Arsenal still remain behind their opponents, who occupy a Champions League spot having lost only once in the opening six games. Watford were at their bruising best in the first half last week against Fulham and really should have recorded a fifth win in six. In Abdoulaye Doucoure they will have arguably the best midfielder on the pitch; the Frenchman is reminiscent of the Keane/Vieira style of midfielder with strengths in all aspects of his game and his battle with Torreira could be key.
The Uruguayan finally made his first league start last week against Everton and overcame a shaky opening to help Arsenal to an unconvincing 2-0 win. The result was mainly due to Petr Cech’s ability to still make crucial saves and one piece of magic from Lacazette. Otherwise, Arsenal were largely second best and a similar performance this week could see Troy Deeney and Andre Gray punish slack defending.
Arsenal have found a way to play both Aubameyang with Lacazette, with the Gabonese forward approaching his lively best last week playing in a wide left role. However the system seems to put both Ozil and Ramsey in uncomfortable positions and given the Welshman’s pair of assists last week and Ozil’s underwhelming start to the season, it might be the start of the German being eased out of the team to accommodate the more natural right winger in Mkhitaryan.
Arsenal come into the game with something of a defensive crisis, after Sokratis limped off in the Everton game to join Koscielny, Mavropanos, Jenkinson and Maitland Niles on the sidelines.
Watford will be without injured players Cleverly, Deulefeu, Britos, Prodl and Okaka, whilst centre-back Kabasele, who received a red card against Tottenham, won his appeal and is available for the fixture. However, even broken toes can’t stop Troy Deeney from playing with the Watford captain typically bullish in stating an injection will see him fit to play. If Deeney does start and Sokratis misses out, Deeney and Gray could add to their impressive start to the season and enhance their reputation as the best strike pair in the league.
Arsenal could call on Rob Holding to partner Mustafi in the defence yet Sokratis has been Arsenal’s best player so far this season and if he misses out Mustafi may have to spray his shirt with the best aftershave he can find so Deeney doesn’t dominate all afternoon.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Watford: Foster; Jaanmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pererya; Gray, Deeney
Score Prediction: Arsenal 3 Watford 1
Arsenal are going into the fixture in good form and although Watford have already toppled Arsenal’s city rivals in Tottenham this season, I expect this one to be too much for them and expect home advantage to work in Arsenal’s favour this time around.