Arsenal played like we know that they can in the Europa League, and now it’s back to the Premier League.
After the team scored two and kept a clean sheet against Milan, it’s looking like Arsenal’s best route back to the Champions League is to win the Europa League—but a fourth-place finish in the Premier League is still mathematically possible, so they’ll want to keep that door open, too. The Gunners are sixth in the table right now, thirteen points back from fourth, with nine games to play. They’ll need a mistake-free finish to their league campaign, and probably some slip-ups from those ahead of them, if they want to make it back to the Champions League without winning the Europa League, and a win against Watford tomorrow will go a long way.
Watford have given Arsenal problems in the recent past, and their first league match of this season ended 2-1 in Watford’s favor, but if Arsenal play like they did last Thursday, then they should take the three points. They improved in Milan in some of the areas where they’ve been most deficient, particularly on the defensive side, and particularly during set pieces. They looked like their old selves during that game—now they just need to take that form back to England.
Arsenal won’t be able to field exactly the same team that they did on Thursday—Sead Kolašinac has an ankle injury, although he hasn’t officially been ruled out yet, and Nacho Monreal, whose place Kolašinac took in Milan, has a back issue. Neither Hector Bellerin nor Alexandre Lacazette played in the Europa League, both out with knee problems, and neither will play tomorrow. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, meanwhile, is eligible again, and he should take Danny Welbeck’s place up front.
Watford expect left back José Holebas and fellow defender Kiko Femenía to return from a small knock and an illness, respectively, but their injury list is still quite long—Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverly, Christian Kabasele, Gerard Deulofeu, Younès Kaboul, Nathanial Chalobah, Tommie Hoban, and Molla Wagué are all out for tomorrow.
A note about daylight saving time—that starts overnight tonight for those of us in the US, but not until March 25th for the UK, which makes the time zone math a little different until then. UK standard or winter time is GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, which is the same as universal time, abbreviated UTC. In time zone-speak, the UK’s offset is UTC+0. Meanwhile, during daylight saving time, the east coast’s offset is UTC-4, four hours behind UTC and GMT, and the west coast’s is UTC-7. Be careful with that, everyone, especially people on the west coast who are planning on waking up early for the game. The offset from the UK will feel the same, but your clocks will say something different than what you’re used to. I’ve been consulting www.timeanddate.com for my international sports scheduling calculations.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Watford
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: 6:30AM PDT | 9:30AM EDT | 1:30PM GMT
US TV: NBCSN
NOT IN THE US: Go to livesoccer.tv for streaming information.