Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Arsenal v Watford Preview

It's Watford tonight for Arsenal in the Premier League and just maybe a chance to close the gap on Chelsea at the top of the table. Arsenal have taken 13 points from their last five games to move into second place, but those 13 points have only seen them cut Chelsea's lead over them by two points to eight points. It's very hard to keep pace with a team who have won 15 of their last 16 league games and any team hoping to catch Chelsea need some help from other teams.

With Chelsea going to Liverpool tonight that might just be the case even if Liverpool have had a month to forget so far. If they want to get back into the title race they really need a win tonight and if they were to do so Arsenal would have some renewed hope ahead of their trip to Chelsea on Saturday. Two defeats in five days would be just what the rest of the top six would ask for and both Arsenal and Liverpool need to do their part.

First of all they have to overcome a Watford team who are on a very bad run and haven't won in seven league games. They were knocked out of the FA Cup at League One side Millwall on Sunday and their manager must be feeling the pressure giving how many managers they have gone through in recent times. They will feel they need to get something from this game too, but surely they are a team devoid of any confidence at the moment.

Speaking of confidence there's nothing like making nine changes to the team and seeing the players that come in go to Southampton and win 5-0 in the cup. I know Southampton made plenty of changes too, but the result and performance were fantastic with some individuals surely making Arsene Wenger sit up and take notice. He has a few decisions to make for tonight and as the season progresses and the only player still out through injury is Santi Cazorla.

He will revert to what he sees as his strongest side at the moment tonight I'm sure which should mean Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi might be the only players to keep their places from Sunday. Plenty of others will hope to get more game time tonight too and maybe come off the bench or possibly come in from the start at Chelsea on Saturday.

The performances of Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Lucas Perez and Danny Welbeck show the strength we have in depth and they all have plenty to offer for the rest of the season. Chamberlain and Ainsley Maitland-Niles performed really well in the centre of midfield on Saturday and gave us some options considering Cazorla's injury, Granit Xhaka's suspension and Mohamed Elneny's international commitments at the moment. I would be very surprised if we didn't see Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey line up in those roles tonight though and probably on Saturday too.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will surely return too with Olivier Giroud leading the line and Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Nacho Monreal certain starters too. That just leaves Alex Iwobi to make up the 11 and while there is definitely a case for Walcott or Welbeck getting the nod after Saturday's performances, but they probably needed to be eased back in after their respective injuries and their past injury records too.

Watford are there for the beating and nothing but three points will do tonight. I could say we should look to Alexis after he only came off the bench on Saturday, but I doubt if he ever needs a rest. I think we will win and I hope we win well too ahead of a huge game on Saturday.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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