Arsene Wenger is a man under immense scrutiny. After starting the new campaign with a loss at home to Liverpool and a draw against Leicester, the Frenchman’s indecisiveness to dip into his transfer reserves to bolster his side has turned a number of the Arsenal faithful against him. Amidst all the hype that surrounds his persona, Wenger takes his side to Watford on Saturday and will be hoping that his players can give him something to cheer about come the end of the game.
While Watford too have endured a loss as well as a draw in their opening two games in the league, they were shocked by Gillingham in the second round of the league cup on Tuesday. However, the mood at the club is not as dim as their London counterparts and they will be they looking forward to putting up a spirited performance against a dispirited Arsenal. Arsenal are clear favourites in this one at 19/25 to win whilst Watford are 23/5.
Manager Walter Mazzarri is expected to ring a number of changes from the side which lost to Gillingham, with club captain Troy Deeney and midfielder Adlène Guédioura being the only players who are expected to retain their positions in the starting 11. The Italian has so far used the 3-5-2 formation and is expected to go into the game with the same formation, a move that could further stifle a rather brittle Arsenal midfield and their attack.
Gomes, Cathcart, Prodl, Britos, Amrabat, Behrami, Capoue, Holebas, Guedioura, Deeney, Ighalo
A side that has perennially been plagued by injury concerns over the course of the last few seasons already has its fair share of issues with the likes of Ramsey, Mertesacker, Iwobi and Welbeck expected to miss the game as they recover from their respective long term injuries.
However, in what can be termed good news for the club, both Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud are expected to start the game after coming on as substitutes in the game against Leicester. Their addition to the line-up will add some much needed attacking firepower to the side.
Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Walcott, Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud.
The side has recently acquired the services of former Juventus man Roberto Pereyra and he is expected to make his Watford bow in the game. A creative player, who would thrive alongside the industrious strike partnership of Ighalo and Deeney, Pereyra is being touted as the smartest signing made by the club over the summer.
The 25 year old is a versatile midfielder who can play on the left, right as well as the centre of the pitch. His industry goes well with the current Watford side and he does not shy from doing his fair share of defensive work. However, what does set him apart from the rest of the players is his creativity. He can make defence-splitting passes, is calm with his decision-making and is effective on and off the ball.
While he might not start the game, he could come on as an impact substitute and given his attributes, he could prove to be a handful for the Arsenal defence. He has shown an ability to change the course of a game on its head and would be critical to Watford’s chances of success against the Gunners.
The Swiss midfielder has endured a tough start to life in England as he has been rendered ineffective by the opposition in the games he has featured so far. While it might be predicted to be an easier outing for the club than the previous 2, the 5 man midfield formation being deployed by Watford will put the midfielder under an enormous test.
Still coming to terms with the pace and physicality of English football, Xhaka has looked troubled in the middle of the park as the opposition midfielders have been able to skip past him like he was non-existent. Touted to be the engine of the side, he will need to control the tempo of the game in order to help his side eke out a positive result.
Given their style of play, it is granted that he will not be afforded time and space on the ball and will come under huge physical pressure from Watford. However, Arsene Wenger will be hoping his recent recruit can shrug off the demons of the recent performances and leave a stamp of his authority over the game.
- These two sides have met on 24 occasions in the past, with Arsenal winning on 13 occasions compared to Watford’s 10 wins .
– Watford are yet to beat Arsenal in the Premier League, having lost their last 6 games to the Gunners.
While Arsenal do not inspire much confidence, given their recent performances, they possess the quality to come out on tops against Watford. However, Watford will not prove to be easy opponents and we expect the game to finish with a 1-0 win for the Gunners.