It's a trip to Watford for Arsenal today in the evening kick off which will of course be live on BT Sports. Live TV games are a part of life for football fans and the switching of kick off times to suit the TV stations. On that point the prospect of Arsenal's home game against Liverpool on December 23rd looks almost certain to be switched to the next day.
It's a decision that takes no account of the wishes of the fans if it goes ahead and it just shows those TV companies care not a jot about about the match going fans. Besides those possibly attending the game I would be surprised if they get a good TV audience on a day when most people in this part of the world already have too much to do.
Back to Watford and it looks like the bad news about Mustafi will at least be countered by the return of Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin. None of them play in the center of defence, but at least our options in other positions will be increased. The manager has a few decisions to make ahead of a game which is a very important one for me. We have recovered somewhat from our poor start to the season and we now need to push on to try to keep pace with the top four.
United and City have started really well and will be hard to catch, but United's season gets underway today when they start to play some of the other contenders. City are a different matter and we need to have as many points as possible on the board before we play them in a few weeks. We need to target three points from today and follow it up with a maximum haul against Everton and Swansea before that trip to City on November 5th.
Watford have started the season very well under Marco Silva and their only defeat came at home to City a few weeks ago when they were thumped 6-0. They haven't won at home yet though and they have conceded more goals at home than any other team too. That statistic is somewhat skewed by the loss to City and as I said already that's their only defeat.
On the other hand Arsenal's turnaround has been fairly impressive and we have managed four clean sheets in a row in the league. It's been a long time since I can remember four clean sheets in a row for Arsenal. That run included an impressive 0-0 draw at Chelsea, but the three wins in it were all at home to teams we would be expected to beat.
Our only away point so far came in that game at Chelsea and we are one of only two teams who have failed to score away from home with the other one propping up the table without a point to their game. Our away form in the second half of last season was just not good enough and if we can't get it right this season we will not finish in the top four again. Only the top two took more points at home than Arsenal last season and we have started this season with four wins out of four on our own patch.
It looks like Laurent Koscielny will be fit to play and if he is the only change from the 2-0 win over Brighton might be a replacement for Mustafi which would be one of Per Mertesacker or Rob Holding. Ozil might come back in too of course which would probably see Alex Iwobi miss out unless Alexis Sanchez isn't up to the task after his late return and World Cup qualification disappointment. I suspect we will see both Holding and Ozil in from the start and we should have a bench with some real quality options. It's going to be a busy few weeks with with Premier League, Europa League and League Cup games to come and the strength of that bench will be tested in those games.
As good as Watford might have been so far we still have the quality to dominate them and take the three points. I think the first goal will be crucial and I hope we can get it because I'm not sure how we will react to going behind. Besides the defeat to Liverpool we also lost at Stoke and I thought we did well in trying to get back into the game after they scored.
For me the equalising goal was coming until the manager made some quite bizarre substitutions and he should have kept faith in the players he had out there. There's no point in making changes just for the sake of it in a case like that and I hope he remembers that if today's game follows a similar pattern. If we score first and keep up our momentum I think we will win and anything other than three points would be a real blow for the team's confidence and the morale of the fans which is slowly improving. It's never easy to lose, but losing to teams you are better than is very hard to take and I think that's something that has happened too often in this calendar year.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.