Watford vs. Arsenal preview
Our training ground neighbours are our next opponents, though this may be trickier than anticipated considering their recent managerial change.
But there is some beef, of sorts, between us, so it’s intriguing to see how this will pan out. The usual talk when we play them is the “cojones” issue, but that’s water under the bridge.
These are the key aspects I feel in this game:
For them, Javi Garcia’s replacement with Quique Flores could give them a bounce.
The “new” manager bounce affect them, and he didn’t do that badly with them before.
However, our “nemesis” Mr. Deeney won’t be playing, though they are at the bottom of the league, and for a side that has been a firm top ten side of late is surprising. Deeney infamously said that we lacked the cojones, and it’s true – we did. But for me, I’ve put that in the past, and with the changes, we’ve made it should be a trigger to be better in the future.
They may have lost the FA Cup Final last season by a record margin, but they will have a point to prove following their opening season performances.
And they would want a win vs. Arsenal to kick start their season.
That’s where our attitude should come in.
The football world knows that Vicarage Road has been a negative ground for us. So it would be opportune to prove the detractors wrong.
If we can get the win, then it could mean the re-birth of our side.
If not, and then the old critiques will resurface.
A certain Mr. Welbeck may feature too – and he obviously knows us well. Our defence has to watch his pace, and whilst his finishing is weak, his work-rate is top-notch so we have to watch for that.
Lacazette and Xhaka are strong doubts.
As is Torreira.
So it could mean a return for Ceballos from the start, or Joe Willock.
Nelson could also feature too and I hope he gets his chance.
However, some of the other big guns are available.
And could a certain German with a Turkish surname feature? Who knows? It’s curious that he hasn’t been active much this season.
Even though the Laca injury is a blow, we should have enough depth and cover to handle it.
I’d retain a 433 here – and Luiz can play in the middle.
With no Torreira, we may lack a hard edge in our midfield.
Chambers should get more regular game time now, and has the tools to fill in here.
Pepe and Auba will look to score and probe their defence, though I feel Nelson could be useful here. The front three won’t be static though, and all can go wide or cut inside if needed.
The key to this game I feel is to match Watford’s physicality, and this will be a test of our mettle and (I’ll say it….) cojones.
It’s also imperative that our midfield is not just up for the physical battle, but can press and negate transitions effectively.
Flores will have some kind of plan to nullify us, and it’s imperative that we out-plan him.
Moreover, none of our other flaws should arise here. Our tracking, marking, and concentration must be on point. And if not, then they will look to exploit us.
The 2-0 win at home last season is a strong template for them – since they were effective in exposing our channels and utilising the spaces.
The 1-0 win at Vicarage Road also was similar, and even though Deeney got sent off early on they were pressing us well and exploiting gaps well.
So this game won’t be easy by any stretch – but if we match their mettle we should get the win with our superior quality.
Watford 1-2 Arsenal
I don’t feel this will be easy, but we should look at this as a test.
If we can get the win, it would show we can handle rough scenarios.
It also will show that we can rough it when needed.
What’s more is that our away form, compared to previous seasons, needs drastic improvement. I don’t see why we can’t get 10 away league wins this season. The other top six will be looking for a figure like this, and it may be the difference between getting into top four or not.