An Arsenal full of confidence and form. A lineup primarily filled with young, exciting, but capable talent. Quality Premier League level substitues on the bench providing depth the club has often lacked. Just over two months ago, on the back of the 5-0 crush by Manchester City, everything looked to on the verge of falling apart. A tremendous job by management to secure the summer signings, to Mikel Arteta for steadying the ship, to the existing players for not letting their heads drop after three opening losses, and to the new players for instantly improving the squad. One more victory on Sunday and Arsenal are banging on the door for the Champions League places.
Now which Watford side Arsenal will get on Sunday is hard to say. Their last four matches have been 1-0 over Leeds United, destroyed by Liverpool 5-0, putting five past Everton to win 5-2, and then a 1-0 loss to Southampton. Typically they don’t give up a lot, outside of the Liverpool loss Watford have only conceeded five goals from their other nine Premier League matches, so the Arsenal attack will need to be efficient.
In Watford’s last season in the Premier League Arsenal won and drew with a combined scoreline of 5-to-4. And the Gunners have won four of their last five matches against the Hornets. In fact, Arsenal have only lost to Watford at home in the league once since 1988 (a 2-1 defeat in 2017). Will the side be able to add to that dominance and the current positive wave against an up-and-down Watford side?
Make sure to check out our Q&A with The Watford Way from earlier this week to catch up on this weekend’s opponent.
- Bernd Leno
- Nuno Tavares
- Rob Holding
- Calum Chambers
- Mohamed Elneny
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Alex Lacazette
- Left Out: Arthur Okonkwo, Sead Kolasinac, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Eddie Nketiah, & Folarin Balogun.
- Out: Granit Xhaka (knee).
- With Arsenal on the verge of closing out the third portion of this season as strong as the second, there will be little incentive or need for Mikel Arteta to change the lineup from the Leicester City win. However, there are a few adjustments that, if available, he should make. Against Leicester, Arsenal worked with two lines of four for much of the match, but against a struggling Watford side the Gunners should be able to revert back to the more familiar and more attacking 4-2-3-1.
- How about this defense? Over the nine matches since the first international break Arsenal have only given up four goals, half of that coming against Crystal Palace. Thus, it’s hard to find a lot to pick apart from the level of play and cohesion between Ramsdale and the backline. And while Nuno Tavares has stepped into the starting role with far more ease than we might have expected during his opening months in North London, if Kieran Tierney is fit he should start Sunday. He’s been dealing with a knock since the Palace match, but getting a chance to get in minutes before the break would be ideal. He’s questionable at the moment, so Tierney may end up being on the bench and getting 30 minutes in the second half. And if that is the case Arsenal fans can have confidence in Tavares ability to defend while also adding to the attack on the left just like Kieran.
- For much of the season, Alex Lacazette has played the role of late substitute as the final year of his contract winds down. Against Crystal Palace he provided the emotional lift and last second heroics to save a point and followed that up as part of an all-around solid day from the Arsenal attack in the 3-1 victory against Aston Villa. And while, Arsenal as a whole were impressive against Leeds United, Lacazette may have been the weak link in the attack on the day. Was it a one-off blip or is it time to see Martin Odegaard back in the starting XI, saving Lacazette for the second half changes and a chance to see if the Norweign can recapture some form heading into the break?
- Otherwise, baring a late injury or illness, the squad seems to be settling into two distanct levels - Premier League vs. Cups/substitutes — until someone makes the case to replace one of these key starters who have turned Arsenal’s season around.
How to watch
Sunday (11/7) at 9:00 am ET / 6:00 am PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
Watford - 1
Will Kieran Tierney be fit to return or does Nuno Tavares get another start in the league? Will Lacazette continue his partnership up top with Aubameyang or might we see Odegaard or Pepe replace him? Arsenal need to close this stint of the schedule with a win to keep the positive momentum building. It’s a match they cannot overlook or underestimate, which is a situation that has caught the Gunners many times in the past. Can Mikel Arteta lead Arsenal to ten in a row unbeaten?