It was an emphatic 5-0 win over Southampton on Saturday in the FA Cup. I was thoroughly impressed with our attacking play and the performance of the young lads in the middle. On Tuesday, we return to Premier League action at home to faltering Watford.
Arsenal have won their last seven league matches against Watford, netting 19 goals in the process (2.7 per game).
Only against Newcastle (9) are Arsenal on a longer active winning run in league competition than against Watford (7 – also seven wins vs Charlton).
However, Watford were victorious against the Gunners at the Emirates in last season’s FA Cup at the quarter-final stage (2-1).
Alexis Sanchez has scored in all three of his previous Premier League appearances against Watford and also has two assists versus the Hornets.
The Gunners have scored a league-high six goals in the 90th minute or later this season and also have the most goals in the 80th minute or later (12).
Arsenal have conceded only four goals in their last seven Premier League home matches; all of which have been penalties.
Since Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal in October 1996, the Gunners have been given more red cards in the Premier League than any other team (75).
Arsenal have currently played 149 Premier League games without a single English player in their starting XI – the next most is Wigan Athletic (42). They haven’t started an English player in their last four league matches.
Heurelho Gomes has conceded 23 goals in eight Premier League games against Arsenal; nine more than he has versus any other opponent in the competition.
Watford’s record in their last 12 Premier League games not played on a weekend is W0 D2 L10. They haven’t won a non-weekend Premier League game since April 2007 (4-2 v Portsmouth).
(Stats Courtesy of Statszone)
Arsenal have only Santi Cazorla as the only injured player after the return of Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy to training. Granit Xhaka is still suspended.
Despite scoring twice at St. Mary’s, Danny Welbeck might start this game from the bench with Wenger hinting at being cautious about how he will be used.
Walter Mazzarri could hand a Watford debut to on-loan forward M’Baye Niang for the trip to the Emirates.
The AC Milan man missed out on the FA Cup defeat to Millwall but has received international clearance in time to feature at the Emirates, although Mazzarri may be reluctant to throw him straight into the side.
Costel Pantilimon (leg) is out for up to four weeks while Mauro Zarate and Jose Holebas are both suspended. Striker, Odion Ighalo could be on his way out of the club.
Wenger would recall a host of first team players with Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal expected to start in defence. Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin should shake off minor knocks to start in central midfield. Mesut Ozil will certainly start behind the trio of Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott.
Walter Mazzarri will look to tweak his team in order to arrest an alarming slump in form for the Hornets. Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Prodl, Miguel Britos, Juan Zuniga (replacing Holebas) and Vahlon Behrami in a five man defence in front of Huerelho Gomes. Tom Cleverley and Abdoulaye Doucoure could start in Central midfield with Etienne Capoue as the playmaker. The physical presence of Troy Deeney will lead the attack partnered by an equally imposing Stefano Chuka Okaka.
We have a very crucial game against Chelsea on Saturday so, it is important that we win this game. With Theo Walcott returning in great form, I think it’s about time Wenger reverted to playing Alexis Sanchez as a centre forward. Olivier Giroud has done well recently but his presence makes us one dimensional and slow in attacking areas. This is the reason why we have started slowly in the last few games. With Walcott and Alexis, we can return to the fast paced intense attacking game that won us so many points earlier in the season. Watford are poor at the moment and we have to take advantage of their current terrible form. Their only threat will come from set pieces and also, Etienne Capoue must be closely watched. I expect us to win this game although it won’t be easy. No game is easy in the EPL.
I’m predicting a 3-0 win with an Alexis Sanchez madness!