Following a period of football nothingness, the Premier League is back to fill the void as Watford welcome Arsenal on Saturday for match-day eight.
Watford have enjoyed a good start to their season – 3 wins and 3 draws in seven outings barring the one comprehensive defeat at the hands of Manchester City looks very impressive in the face of some really poor starts made by the likes of Everton and Southampton. Marco Silva has shown with Hull how solid his teams could be in midfield and at the back, particularly at home – and should things go his way, Vicarage Road is expected to see some big results in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how he sets up against an Arsenal – who look to have found their groove.
Arsenal, after a typically mediocre opening couple of weeks, including the defeats to Liverpool and Stoke City, do seem to have found their feet this season. The Gunners went unbeaten in a hugely positive September – when they also managed to keep four clean sheets in the Premier League. For a side that often comes under criticism for being leaky at the back, this should provide a timely boost of confidence.
But now is the time to gain some steam ahead of a hectic December, if they were to stay in the hunt for the title in what looks like a three-way race so far. They are without a defeat in seven games in all competitions, and also face a favourable fixture list in the next few weeks.
Can they get their first away win in the league on Saturday?
Silva must make a decision over Andre Carrillo, who represented Peru on Tuesday night, and Sebastian Prodl who is carrying a hamstring problem. However, defender Younes Kaboul is absent, while Isaac Success is out until December after sustaining a knee injury.
For Arsenal, center-half Shkodran Mustafi is facing six weeks out – after the defender suffered an injury to his thigh. Sanchez could start on the bench after his mid-week exertions with Chile but the squad will be bolstered by the return of Koscielny and Welbeck – with the duo in contention to feature at Vicarage Road.
- Watford are the only team to have beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup since 2014. The Gunners have won three of the last four editions of the competition but lost to Watford in March 2016 in the sixth round at the Emirates.
- There has only ever been one draw between these two clubs in the 26 previous meetings before this encounter. This came back in December 1984 when they played out a 1-1 draw at Highbury.
- Spanish defensive duo Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are the only two outfield players to have played every minute of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign so far.
Nathaniel Chalobah – Watford
Chalobah has started to get reasonably regular playing time at Watford – in the midfield. The former Chelsea man has got all the attributes to be a success and play a vital role in helping Watford finish as high as they can – top half. With a wealth of experienced and talented footballers around him fighting for the same spot, Chalobah is better for the experience he will gain under the tutelage of Marco Silva. His presence and natural ability on the ball should cause the visitors a lot of problems on the break come Saturday.
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal
Fresh from the defeat with his national team Chile that eliminated them from the World Cup Qualifiers, it is understandable to go missing in a couple of games – but Alexis Sanchez is a unique talent.
The midfielder has had a highly productive career at Arsenal which could all come to an end come the end of this season or even earlier but when Sanchez is on the pitch – he gives 100% without a shadow of doubt and on his day he is up there with anybody in the country.
He has yet to properly hit the ground running for Arsenal and it’s rather bizarre that he and Ozil have not lit up the league so far but it is never too late for a match-winning performance and things may finally fall into place at Arsenal.
Arsenal to nick this one at the tail-end of the match.
Watford 0-1 Arsenal