The last week has been dominated by FA Cup matters, but today sees a return to the bread and butter of our season, as Watford visit The Emirates in our next Premier League match tonight.
Our last match was a satisfying one to say the least. An emphatic 5-0 scoreline, a return to fitness and form for two of our foremost attackers and the defeat of a team who had developed the knack for dumping us out of competitions meant that it was smiles all round – even for the absent Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners gaffer will again be missing from the dugout as this is his second match of four that he will miss through his four match touchline ban. His absence didn’t seem to affect his players though, even though Wenger will have done all of the preparation for the game before kickoff.
Wenger will have been given some headaches after the 5-0 FA Cup win, as he will have some big shouts from some of his players to start this game.
Theo Walcott returned to the side in style with a treble, and we have played our best football with the England man in the team. Will two games in four days be too much for his calf? This workload will probably mean the other hero from the weekend – Danny Welbeck – will be rested.
Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt have continued their AFCON adventure, so it means Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey are the only recognised central midfielders in stock -if you discount who comprised our engine room against Southampton.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ainslie Maitland-Niles were ever so effective together, but more than likely they will both be out of the side for the aforementioned midfielders. Lucas Perez was also in excellent form, but Olivier Giroud and Alexis will likely return to the team, as well as Mesut Ozil.
Laurent Koscielny was rested for the weekend, with a view to this crucial Premier League double header with Watford and Chelsea. Petr Cech will also come back into the team, and he will be facing his former side on Saturday. A return to his previous form would be a plus.
Watford are falling quickly down the table, and Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri has dumped some sandbags to lighten the load. Odion Ighallo has been sold for the ludicrous amount of £20m, and Adlene Guedioura is off to Hull City. They did bolster their side though, with a loan move for AC Milan attacker M’Baye Niang and Mauro Zarate who has had spells at Birmingham City and West Ham.
Watford are a real test, and we have seen the devastating effects that taking our foot off the pedal can incur. We cannot take this lightly with one eye on the Chelsea fixture. Dropped points here and the game at Stamford Bridge will matter little. Chelsea play Liverpool in midweek, and this carries a real possibility of dropped points for the League leaders. It is imperative we can close the gap if the chance arises.
Arsenal are in deceptively good form though. We haven’t conceded from open play in seven home games, and Watford have not won in seven games home or away. This means on paper that this should be a home banker.
The problem is, we are Arsenal fans and that means we all know there are no such things.
If we play well, then we should go into Saturday’s crunch match full of confidence.
Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
Predicted Scoreline: 3-0 to Arsenal.