Welcome back Pepe. His introduction in the final minutes of the Wolves matches turned the tide and kept Arsenal in control of 4th. They enter the weekend having played three matches fewer than Manchester United (ahead by 2 points) and West Ham (tied on 45 points). Only Spurs are within striking distance at the moment, but they both trail the Gunners and have played one extra match. It’s well within Arsenal’s sights and should be an exciting few months ahead.
Watford enters the weekend in 19th place three points away from safety and having played two more matches than 17th place Everton. One of the Hornets’ star players, Ismaila Sarr, is a doubt heading into the match which limits an already struggling attack. Watford has the third-lowest goals for tally in the league (25). Arsenal will be hoping to continue recent form against Watford, having won five and drawn once from the last six matches between these two sides.
If you missed it this week, check out the Q&A I did with The Watford Way. Now on to the starting XI.
- Eddie Nketiah
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Mohamed Elneny
- Nuno Tavares
- Rob Holding
- Takehiro Tomiyasu
- Bernd Leno
- Left Out: Arthur Okonkwo.
- Out: No one.
- Mikel Arteta noted in his press conference on Friday Takehiro Tomiyasu is still a doubt heading into the weekend. Given Cedric’s recent play, I’d lean towards starting him again and potentially bringing Tomiyasu in as a late sub for some minutes if Arsenal is in control. After this match, Arsenal has a week until Leicester City and will need Takehiro fully fit for the three matches over the following seven days (Leicester City, Liverpool, & Aston Villa).
- Despite its limited depth, Arsenal’s squad finds itself in a really good place heading into these crucial final months of the season. The starting XI is producing while the bench is gradually looking more dangerous and capable week to week.
- The defense can call on Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Bern Leno & Nuno Tavares as subs. We all know the energy and pace Gabriel Martinelli brings to Arsenal and perhaps now we are about to see the re-emergence of the Pepe from the end of last season. Add in the defensive protection of Elneny and Arteta has the depth and options this side has often lacked in past seasons. There is a confidence growing in this side.
- You could reward Pepe with a start, but I believe we will see another second-half sub on Sunday. His place in the starting XI will come next week when Arsenal are forced into rotation.
How to watch
Sunday (3/6) at 9:00 am ET / 6:00 am PT on USA Network.
Arsenal - 2
Watford - 0