Following the end of the international break, Arsenal return to Premier League action at the weekend, hoping to gain maximum points as they travel to Vicarage Road to face bottom of the table Watford. The Hornets have just one point from their opening four games and recently made the contentious decision to replace Javi Gracia with former head coach Quique Sanchez.
Their current form represents the first blip in an otherwise stellar managerial spell for Gracia and his staff, with their latest call representative of the current lack of patience within the modern game. Having now nailed their colours to the mast, Watford will be hoping it pays dividends quickly and you’d expect them to be buoyed heading into the weekend’s fixture against Unai Emery’s side.
Arsenal currently sit in sixth place after a mixed start to the season, with no wins in their last two games meaning they will be hoping to gain some momentum.
Emery awaits news on possible midfield knocks
The two-week break has closed with some concerns for Emery to ponder ahead of the fixture.
Granit Xhaka appeared to pull up against Gibraltar in Switzerland’s Euro 2020 qualifier and was withdrawn after 74 minutes. After the match, the midfielder admitted that he has been struggling with injury in recent weeks.
“I’ve been suffering from Achilles tendon pain for a few weeks now. I felt it during the game,” Xhaka confirmed. “It hurts now, but it should be okay otherwise.”
The severity of the injury is still unknown and a decision over whether he will play a part is therefore set to go down to the wire, with Emery having to decide whether to believe the player over the severity of the issue, or allow him the time to fully recover before returning to the side.
Lucas Torreira was also withdrawn while on international duty in Uruguay’s 2-1 friendly win over Costa Rica on Saturday, coming off just before the half time whistle. Reports in Uruguay suggest the substitution was at the player’s request having taken a knock. He was an unused substitute in the draw with the United States.
Pepe and Lacazette expected to start after getting the all clear
However, there is also good news for Arsenal, after it was revealed that Nicolas Pepe’s early return from international duty was not injury related but instead due to Ivory Coast wanting him to work on his fitness. Elsewhere, it was initially feared Alexandre Lacazette had pulled his hamstring against Tottenham, but confirmation from Emery over a simple cramp issue means he is likely to play a part.
Youngster Joe Willock withdrew from the England Under-21s squad following an inflammation of the calf, using the period to recover in a bid to be fit for Watford. The injury isn’t serious meaning the teenager could also be expected to feature on the bench at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Konstantinos Mavropanos continues his rehabilitation from injury alongside Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. The weekend’s fixture will come too soon for all three players, but they are expected to return to full first-team training by the end of this month.