Saturday, 17 October 2015

Arsenal's Trip To Watford Previewed

Here we are again back to the real football after another insufferable international break and full in the knowledge the next one is only a few weeks away again. During those few weeks there's plenty of football to be played though with Arsenal playing in the Premier League, the Champions League and the Capital One Cup. The first of those games is this afternoon when they travel to Watford to play against the first of the three teams promoted from the Championship last season.

Watford have had a reasonable start to life in the Premier League and have made themselves a tough team to beat. There hasn't been too many goals in their four home games so far with two scoreless draws and the other two games being settled by the only goal of the game. I don't expect them to open up and play attacking football today and Arsenal could face a long hard slog trying to find openings to score.

Watford tend to use their two big front players early and those two players rely on their strength as often as not. It's not exactly pretty to watch, but it has been effective so far with Odion Ighalo bagging five goals already this season. Arsenal have to be wary of this tactic and the two full backs need to be ready to come in behind the central defenders to mop up at times. That's not always easy when Arsenal are pushing those full backs forward, but it's something they have to be aware of.

In team news the international break has been kinder to Arsenal than other teams for a change with none of the players reporting back in a worse state than they left. Alexis Sanchez might not have been 100% as he headed off to play for Chile, but he played both of their games and scored three goals in those games. That's eight goals for him in his last four games and it's going to be hard to leave him out of the team today even with Bayern Munich coming to town on Tuesday night. In fact Arsenal players had a bit of a field day during the international break with more goals than you can shake a stick at from Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla as well as the goals from Alexis.

It's hard to know if the team today will be influenced by that game against Bayern and it's importance for this season's Champions League group. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are both available for selection again after their respective injuries while Laurent Koscielny faces a late test to see if he can play. I don't expect Koscielny to be risked, but it's quite possible there will be a few changes to the team which was so impressive last time out against United.

Tinkering with the team hasn't worked too well so far this season though which is why Arsenal have no points from their two Champions League games and sit at the bottom of their group. A win today is essential to maintain Arsenal's chase of City and keep them in second place or even close the gap if City slip up. Arsenal have scored more goals away from home than any other team so far and they will give Watford their toughest match so far since their promotion. 

It still hasn't been a great start to the season for Arsenal with highs and lows seemingly coming with each game, but that victory over United has really upped the hopes and expectations. Arsenal have won every league match that they have scored in, but they have failed to score in three of their eight games. After struggling for goals early on they have scored eight in their last two league games and look capable of scoring at any time in any game.

I think Watford will make life tough for them, but a fully focused Arsenal should have enough to take the three points. It might take the late introduction of Alexis to swing the the game in their favour if he is on the bench, but at least they will have that option. He's the outstanding player in the team and the league at the moment and Arsenal are lucky enough to have him. They have to do everything possible to make sure he stays at the club and they continue to build a team around him.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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