Watford - Arsenal Preview: Can Alexis Sanchez provide the spark once again?

The international break is now over and the focus is well and truly back on Premier League football as Watford take on Arsenal at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening.

It's a game that will have different consequences for both sides. The Hornets come into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with fellow promoted side Bournemouth. However with a win over Arsenal, a fate that could be achieved with the Gunners maybe having one eye on their crucial Champions League game over Bayern in midweek, then they could push up into the top half of the table. 

For Arsenal they may well have an opportunity to go top, but that would only happen if Man City lost to Bournemouth earlier in the day. Nonetheless it would be an opportunity for the Gunners to maintain pace with the leaders and put pressure on the Blues at the top end of the table. 

Form guide

The Gunners come into this game in very good form in the Premier League, winning their previous two games and scoring eight in the process. They've dropped points on just three occasions so far this season but their form over a prolonged period of time is still questionable. Although a win over Watford is likely for Arsene Wenger's men, Vicarage Road has been a tough place to go so far this season. 

The Hornets have by no means had a bad start to the campaign, especially considering they've only just returned after and absence in the Championship. They've lost just one of their four opening home games and keep things tight at the back. However dealing with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, a man who's scored nine goals in five games for club and country, is a completely different proposition for their defence. Watford have conceded just seven goals in the League so far, which is a joint league low with the likes of City and Satuday's opponents, Arsenal.

Arsenal's defence despite that stat, have hardly set the world alight at times this season. Petr Cech seems to be growing in confidence game by game though and the clean-sheet against Manchester United in the Gunners last game reaffirmed that. Watford though are a side that have struggled to score goals, especially at home and therefore it wouldn't be a surprise if the Gunners defence go untested for large parts of the game. 

Team news

Alexis Sanchez is a possible doubt for Saturday's fixture despite playing in both of Chile's games over the international break with a hip problem that forced him off in the win over Man United. However he's keen to play, as demonstrated on international duty and its probable that he will feature. 

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are both available for selection again though whilst Laurent Koscielny is to have a test on the injury that ruled him out of the previous game to see whether he's fit to play a part on Saturday.

As for the Hornets, the likes of Valon Behrami, Ikechi Anya and Allan Nyom could all feature despite missing their respective international fixtures over the break with injury. Defender Joel Ekstrand and attacking midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado are both ruled out though with knee and hamstring problems. 

Attacking flair to win the game

The amount of attacking flair and power Arsenal have should be able to win them the game, even if Watford do make it hard by crowding them out in the middle of the pitch and on the edge of the area. Alexis Sanchez is continuing to prove his worth, whilst Theo Walcott is ever improving as a striker, having netted against Olympiacos and Leicester recently, and also for England against Estonia over the international break. Walcott's first ever Premier League start came against Waford back in October 2006 so he'll be looking to create more fond memories on Saturday. 

Mesut Ozil has also been in fine form and you can expect him to be running the game alongside Santi Cazorla in the central areas. However Watford's Capoue and Behrami, if fit, will be doing their best to break up the Arsenal play and disrupt the rhythm of the Gunners game. 

Verdict

Arsenal fans will be hoping that the international break does not break their current Premier League form and that they'll be able to comfortably fend off their opponents once more this weekend. Many will be predict an Arsenal victory and indeed that looks like the most likely result.

That goes without saying though that Watford will make it tough, especially at home where it'll be crucial for them to pick up points if they're to stay in the division. Despite their good defensive record so far, it's difficult for any side at the moment to keep Alexis Sanchez quiet and providing he's fit it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the score-sheet once more. 

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