Arsenal vs Watford Preview: Gunners look to continue winning streak against in-form Watford
Arsenal host Watford on Saturday afternoon in a Premier League clash | Photo: VAVEL

Arsenal vs Watford Preview: Gunners look to continue winning streak against in-form Watford

Arsenal host Watford at the Emirates Stadium as Unai Emery's side are look to make it five consecutive Premier League wins.

Andy Preston

Arsenal's shaky start to the season has been rectified by their recent upturn in form which has seen them win six games consecutively in all competitions.

Watford are sure to provide a tough test, however, having got off to a flying start to the season winning their first four games, including a win against Tottenham Hotspur. They currently sit in fourth position in the Premier League table.

Busy schedule for Gunners

A relentless schedule of four games at the Emirates Stadium in ten days may take its toll on Unai Emery’s side, nonetheless, they have stood up to the test so far with three victories against Vorskla, Everton and Brentford respectively.

The Spanish manager has been able to rotate his side and make full use of his squad throughout the three matches but has continued to use a competitively strong starting eleven, something which was not often been the case in the Carabao Cup or Europa League group stages under Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal have been ruthless in attack with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang beginning to form a formidable partnership in an unorthodox front three. The pair have already scored eight goals between them this season in all competitions.

Troy Deeney controversy

Watford captain Troy Deeney caused tensions to rise between the sides after his side defeated Arsenal 2-1 with a late comeback in October 2017, he accused the North London side of ‘lacking cojones’.

Arsenal redeemed some pride in retaliation to Deeney’s comments as Arsenal comfortably beat Watford in the return fixture at the Emirates 3-0, with the Emirates crowd understandably thrilled to see Petr Cech save a second half penalty from none other than Deeney.

Team news

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is expected to return to the squad having been substituted with a leg injury during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday.

Sead Kolasinac is also in contention to be in the squad having been included among the substitutes for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup tie on Wednesday against Brentford.

Laurent Koscielny, Ainsley Maitland-NilesCarl Jenkinson and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all still out injured.

The Hornets are boosted by the news that Christian Kabasele’s red card midweek in the Carabao Cup has been overturned, meaning he is in contention for Watford’s trip to the Emirates.

Predicted line-ups

Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang (4-2-3-1)

Watford: Foster, Holebas, Kabasele, Cathcart, Janmaat, Capoue, Doucoure, Hughes, Pereyra, Deeney, Gray (4-2-2-2)

Key clash - Ozil vs Holebas

Aubameyang and Lacazette have been the focal points to Arsenal’s attack so far this season, playing alongside Mesut Ozil in a front three which sees the German playmaker largely deployed on the right wing.

Although this is a slightly unnatural position for Ozil, with his tendency to drift into the middle as a number ten, he does have the capability to cause damage from the right by cutting inside on to his clinically accurate left foot.

The flexibility of the front four with Aaron Ramsey also has allowed Ozil to rotate between the wing and a more central attacking position with the Welshman, while Lacazette and Aubameyang tend to drift between a central and wide striking role.

Jose Holebas will be expecting a tough test against Arsenal’s rampant attacking options and while he will be focused on limiting Ozil’s influence on the game, he may be able to cause damage of his own making.

The experienced 34-year-old left-back has been a big part of Watford’s inspired start to the season and has already proved his worth to the side having scored once and claimed four assists in six Premier League appearances.

The Greek international may fancy his chances getting forward against an often ill-disciplined Arsenal side but will have to be careful not to leave his side exposed.

Emery look to exploit confidence

Ahead of the game, the Arsenal head coach had his say. “Each match gives us the opportunity to take more confidence”, said Emery.

“But every match is one challenge to show and to give, to find our best moment and best performance. I think each player is thinking well, but also we need more.”