The Gunners were in fine form before the international break, but an away match against a vibrant Watford side has all the hallmarks of a potential banana skin for Wenger’s men – simply put, they cannot afford anything less than 3 points as they look to continue their recovery from their terrible start to the campaign.
The Gunners appear to have found their form following a traumatic transfer window and it is only the Manchester sides that are now noticeably ahead of the Gunners, with Liverpool in 7th, Chelsea level on points and Tottenham just one point ahead. But you don’t have to look very far down the table to find Arsenal’s opponents on Saturday, Watford, who are sitting pretty in 8th and have looked very good under Marco Silva.
Watford will surely capitalise on any complacency from Arsenal if it is present, perhaps most impressively, they have scored 11 goals this season, the same amount as Arsenal! Richarlson looks a terrific signing and like Doucoure, he has scored 3 Premier League goals already this season. Watford just look more spirited under their new manager and evidence of this perhaps falls in their late goals.
Despite Arsenal finding their feet, I’m not overly confident of the team getting three points. What do you fancy for this one? Take a look at the Watford vs. Arsenal betting odds. I think a draw is good value at 16/5.
Will Ozil and Alexis start this game? It’s hard to tell, but in truth, Arsenal have looked fine without them on the pitch and even Alexis’ influence is fading as it seems the inevitable is on the horizon. Wenger admitted earlier this week that both players could be sold for cut-prices in January to avoid losing them for nothing at the end of the season. It does look like that could be the best possible solution, but questions must be asked as to why the duo were not sold in the summer if the club were never confident of tying them to new deals. Not only will Arsenal receive much less money for them, but want away players being in the squad is disruptive and this was clearly the case in the seasons opening fixtures.
Whilst the undeniable quality of Ozil and Alexis will be needed at times this season, I would be tempted to hand the likes of Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere more game time in preparation for the world class duos exit. I think in a game like this against Watford, Wilshere may even be a better option than the German, who is still going to be struggling for match fitness. I think it sends a positive message about the club if they don’t need to rely on Ozil or Alexis this season, and it’d be great to see someone come through and take responsibility.
There are some players though, whose time is surely up and there isn’t much point in trying to shoehorn them into this team, the likes of Theo Walcott, who was determined to fight for his place in the summer, has surely realised his time is up. He’s no longer having an effect from the bench, which says all you need to know, it’s best for both player and club to move on from this situation and I think that could very well happen in January with a number of clubs snooping around at his availability.