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Alexis and Lucas the ones to watch against The Hornets

arsenal watford premier league match preview 2017

Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Watford – Premier League – 31.01.2017

It was important for Arsenal to gain some confidence and momentum ahead of our match against Chelsea on Saturday and our last few results will have helped. Chelsea play Liverpool and whilst anything but a Chelsea win is good news for us it will mean little if Arsenal do not take all three points tonight.

The emphatic five goal win against Southampton will have given us a real shot in the arm the Gunners should not start tonight with the overconfidence that has cost us so dearly in the past. Our big FA Cup win was satisfying to watch for the devastating manner in which we played but more so for the returns of Walcott and Welbeck.

However, two games in four days is a fitness risk Wenger is unlikely to take with his influential Englishmen. For such a large, and strong, squad Wenger will have a familiar selection headache for tonight. Xhaka is banned, Elneny is still on international duty, Santi is still injured and Coquelin is just coming back to fitness. Le Coq will likely partner Aaron Ramsey in midfield - a partnership that has failed to deliver in the past - as althought Oxlade-Chamberlain acquitted himself superbly in midfield against his boyhood club he is perhaps not equipped for a high stakes Premier League game in a central position.

The Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey axis is a failed experiment in the eyes of many Gooners however so was Alexis at centre-forward so hopefully we will all be proven wrong once again.

Lucas Perez put in a star performance in the FA Cup and has delivered every time he has played but so far has not convinced the manager he deserves to start. He will likely make way for the returning Giroud and Alexis but if Wenger puts his faith in him tonight he could prove to be the difference with his work ethic, technical ability, timing and intelligence in combinations.

Arsenal haven't conceded from open play in seven home games and Watford have not won in seven games home or away but this match is not to be underestimated. We've lost to worse opposition when we've been in better form. That said, we should get through this with little trouble if we keep things simple and maintain our defensive focus.

Alexis has scored in every game he has faced Watford and I don't expect tonight to be any different.

alexis vs watford

Last 3 Meetings

  • Watford 1-3 Arsenal (27.08.2016)
  • Arsenal 4-0 Watford (02.04.2016)
  • Arsenal 1-2 Watford (13.03.2016)

FACTFILE

  • 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.

INJURIES

Cazorla, Mertesacker and Debuchy.

Potential STARTING XI

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey, Özil; Lucas, Alexis, Giroud.

GOONERSPHERE'S PREDICTION

Arsenal 3-0 Watford

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