Arsenal - Watford Preview: Gunners aim to avenge Cup quarter-final loss

Following their 2-1 home defeat against Watford in their FA Cup quarter-final clash, Arséne Wenger's men will be hoping for a better all-round display when they entertain the high-energy Hornets once more at the Emirates.

Arsenal - Watford Preview: Gunners aim to avenge Cup quarter-final loss
Picture source: VAVEL UK

Time to step up

The international break came at the right time for most sides - Arsenal included. After a forgettable winless run, they managed an excellent away performance at Goodison Park against an unpredictable Everton side - who've been a bogey team in recent seasons.

Eight games remain in a title race not yet over, but many supporters already feel it is. Leicester's remarkable rise to the top surpassed everyone's expectations, and they have a realistic chance of silverware come the middle of May. As for the Gunners, they'd need to form excellent momentum in order to snatch the title from the Foxes', as well as Tottenham's, grasp. Doesn't seem likely, does it?

Team news

Petr Čech (calf) is a doubt for tomorrow’s fixture, meaning David Ospina could and probably will continue to start in goal – a reward for his impressive form in the Czech's absence. Arsène Wenger provided updates on a number of first-team players who’ve been ruled out of action with respective injuries, confirming that the midfield duo of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini will both not be available for selection this weekend, but hopefully the following week.

Santi Cazorla, who has been sidelined since November, has started running outside again. In terms of an expected timescale, the experienced Spaniard should be "three or four weeks" away from a full return. Jack Wilshere, who is still a doubt for this summer's European Championships, might feature in next week's under-21 fixture against Newcastle, while Tomas Rosicky is also back in full training. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only other absentee, and he's "progressing well", currently in the rehabilitation process as he recovers from a double blow: knee ligament and ankle damage.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) in rehabilation work | Photo: Instagram
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) in rehabilation work at London Colney, earlier this week | Picture source: Instagram

High-energy Hornets

 | Photo: Getty
Odion Ighalo and his teammates had plenty to celebrate in their previous fixture against Arsenal. | (Picture: Getty Images)

Following Arsenal's unceremonious exit from the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage, the Hornets will be eager to sting them once more at the Emirates. With the dynamic duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo leading the line, Quique Sánchez Flores' side still ultimately have points to play for.

A late European qualification charge seems unlikely, but they'll be eager to push into the top 10 and cement an excellent season's work with a semi-final at Wembley in a few weeks' time. They love the 'underdog' tag and will be keen to embrace it once more, but this time, you'd naturally expect a wearier but less tentative Arsenal side in battle on Saturday.

Probable starting XI's

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerín, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Iwobi, Özil, Alexis; Welbeck.

Watford: Gomes; Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Aké; Capoue, Suárez, Abdi, Watson; Deeney, Ighalo.