Arsenal must keep momentum against the Hornets
Match Preview: Watford vs. Arsenal - Premier League - 14.10.2017
Well, we return from the international break predictably worse for wear, with Koscielny and Mustafi injured and various others, such as Alexis and Kolašinac road-weary as well. On top of that, the break came at an inopportune time, interrupting a tidy little run of form that had seen us go undefeated, winning six of seven, and flirting with the idea of starting to dominate opponents. Yes, we did benefit from a softer stretch of the schedule, but we made the most of it and will need to refind some of that form as we travel to face Watford. Do not underestimate them. If nothing else, they've got Troy Deeney. And Capoue. Oh, and Cleverley.
Okay, time to take tongue out of cheek. Aside from their horrow-show visit to the Etihad, when it seemed that City could do no wrong, Marco Silva's got his side playing some tough, physical football that has Watford sitting just a point off our pace (and that of Chelsea as well). Despite a leaky defense that has shipped 12 goals in seven match (six were after all in one), Silva's squad is fairly well-drilled and not prone to folding. In attack, they're likely to attack with width in a 4-2-3-1 (remember that formation), something we with our own 3-4-3 will have to be mindful of, all the more so in the absence of Mustafi and Koscielny and perhaps Kolašinac as well.
During our own little streak, we've really only looked impressive at Stamford Bridge, struggling to kill of matches against inferior or overmatched sides through a lack of urgency on our part or a surplus of the same from our opponents. Aganst Watford, who will probably start to fade in the second half of the season, we can ill afford to look as diffident or as careless as we have against Doncaster or BATE Borisov. Given the likely absences mentioned above and listed below, there are open questions about who will be on the pitch and who will infuse the squad with the energy and drive we have seen only in fits and starts.
With the possibility that Alexis will be unavailable, at least as a starter, all eyes will turn naturally to Lacazette, the presumptive leader of the line. He's looked sharp and incisive, even if he hasn't produced at the levels of other big-ticket transfers such as Lukaku or Morata. His bedding-in process has been hindered ever so slightly by the ever-rotating cast of characters playing behind him; as a result, it should only be a matter of time before he beds in for real and starts scoring often enough to justify his transfer-fee. With Iwobi and Özil behind him, and with Wilshere and Xhaka looking for longer passes from deep, Lacazette should find enough chances to score to put at least one if not two past another old friend in Heurelho Gomes.
- Arsenal 1-2 Watford (31 Jan 2017).
- Watford 1-3 Arsenal (27 Aug 2016).
- Arsenal 4-0 Watford (2 Apr 2016).
- Arsenal have won their last five away matches against Watford.
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their last five away matches against Watford.
- Watford have not won any of their last five home matches in the Prem.
- Cazorla, Chambers, Coquelin, Koscielny, and Mustafi are ruled out. Alexis and Kolašinac may need to rest but are available.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
- Čech, Monreal, Mertesacker, Holding; Kolašinac, Wilshere, Xhaka, Bellerín; Iwobi, Özil; Lacazette.
- Despite all of Watford's hustle and physicality, they don't enough firepower nor enough defensive grit to match wits with Arsenal.
- Watford 1-3 Arsenal.
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