Arsenal vs Watford
Venue: The Emirates
KO: 26th July 2020, 16.00 BST
Arsenal vs Watford is, in theory, as hard as the recent Aston Villa game which saw a ponderous and unimaginative performance from the Gunners in an unexpected 1-0 loss. To compound matters further, they would be unable to leapfrog their North London rivals in their worst finish to a Premier League campaign in 25 years.
Watford will be in a desperate mood in the final Premier League game of the season, trapped in the bottom three with their fate unclear. Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and managerless Watford have it all to play for, so expect a spicy affair with lots of cojones on display.
Watford’s decision to sack Nigel Pearson was and wasn’t a surprise. He’s win percentage was 31.82% from 22 games in charge, which would have surpassed Javi Gracia’s 35.29% from 51 games in the hot seat. It was certainly better than a host of other Hornets incumbents who suffered the same fate from the sackaholic club. Behind the scenes at Vicarage Road, there were rumours of dressing-room tensions between the prickly Pearson and his players.
Watford’s problems are the same as their fellow relegation strugglers – too few goals, too many goals conceded. In fact, the bottom four are as close as any candidates facing the drop in recent seasons but they will try to give themselves every chance when they face Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.
The Hornets will fancy this fixture having beaten Arsenal convincingly in the past with the most memorable being a 2-1 victory in 2017 in the infamous ‘cojones’ game at Vicarage Road. The remarks by Troy Deeney will add extra spice to an already feisty Arsenal vs Watford affair with Arteta hoping to finish the season in style.
Watford may have to man the barricades after conceding 7 goals in 2 games, a figure that will be music to the ears of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in search of the Golden Boot. Aubameyang still stands an outside chance of winning the accolade but is minus three goals, however, Arteta will be more concerned by the performance and collecting all three points.
Arsenal will have to dig deep, be prepared to be smothered, and fight for every ball. They have to use the wide areas and get the strikers moving early behind the defenders, with the wing-backs and midfield wingers peppering the ball into the danger areas.
If Arteta is going to play his strongest side then, Bellerin, Tierney, Ceballos, and Xhaka are obvious choices. Take your pick up front, but I’d go with Aubameyang, Lacazette, and Pepe. Saka needs a run out after an insipid team performance at Villa and Holding will probably fill in for the injured Mustafi.
No slow starts on Sunday, Arsenal need to hit the gas from the first whistle and they need to bombard Watford for the first 20 minutes to gain the advantage and break their spirit.
The Stats:- Out of the last 13 matches between the two sides, the gunners have won 10, Watford 2 with 1 drawn.
Key players for Watford:- Ismaïla Sarr (If fit and available), Abdoulaye Doucouré, Roberto Pereyra, and everyone’s favourite cartoon pantomime villain Troy Deeney.
Key players for Arsenal:- Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Dani Ceballos.
Predicted Lineup for the Arsenal vs Watford Game:- Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Predicted Score:- 2-0 Arsenal win