Can the Gunners draw the Hornets sting
Can the Gunners draw the Hornets sting

Watford host Arsenal at Vicarage Road in the Premier League this afternoon.

The Gunners make the short trip to take on their London Colney training ground neighbours seeking their first win of the season.

Arsenal picked up their first point of the season in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Premier League Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

It followed the 3-4 home defeat to Liverpool in the opening fixture of the season at the Emirates Stadium.

The one point Arsenal have picked up from their first two Premier League matches of the season is their lowest total at this stage since 2011/12 (also one point).

The Gunners go into the match in 13th place in the embryonic table.

That’s one place above their opponents, with new manager Walter Mazzarri still looking for his first win.

Following picking up a point in their opening fixture at Southampton, the Hornets then slipped to a defeat at home to Chelsea last weekend.  This was followed by a 2-1 EFL Cup home defeat to Gillingham in midweek.

Laurent Koscielny’s return helped Arsenal produce a more solid defensive performance against Leicester City. The Gunners though were on the right side of two penalty appeals after challenges by Koscielny and Bellerin on Drinkwater and Musa respectively. The referee waved away both penalty claims, with the Bellerin challenge looking to be a clear penalty.

Another solid defensive performance will be required today to counteract the Watford strikers Troy Deeney and Odiohn Ighalo. Arsene Wenger has identified the pair as a major threat.

Against the Foxes the Gunners were toothless in attack. The likely return of Mesut Ozil will hopefully help create more opportunities for Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott. Both were largely ineffective against Leicester.

Arsenal will also need to maintain their discipline in what is likely to be hotly contested midfield battle. Francis Coquelin was fortunate not to receive a red card last week against the Foxes after continuing to make a number of rash challenges after a first half yellow card.

Head-to-Head

Watford have lost all six of their matches against Arsenal in the Premier League. The Gunners have scored fifteen goals in those six matches conceding just three.

Watford haven’t beaten Arsenal in league competition since a 1-0 win in April 1988, courtesy a goal from Rick Holden.

They did though beat the Gunners last season in an FA Cup quarter-final match at the Emirates Stadium (1-2).

Key Men

Who comes out on top the battle between Arsenal’s centre backs Laurent Koscielny and Rob Holding and the Watford strikers Troy Deeney and Odiohn Ighalo will go a long way to determining the outcome of the match.

Etienne Capoue has scored in both of his side’s Premier League matches in 2016/17. No Watford player has found the net in their first three top flight matches in a season.

Alexis Sanchez scored two goals and assisted another in two Premier League appearances against Watford last season.

The Managers

Walter Mazzarri

At his pre-match press conference spoke about the chances of any of his three new signings (Daryl Janmaat, Younes Kaboul  and Robert Pereya) featuring against Arsenal.

“They have just arrived and I need to be sure they know what they need to do.

They will be there; I’m not sure if they will start or play later. I want to start from the good things we did against Chelsea. It’s nearly impossible all three will start.

‘I need to take into consideration the XI who played against Chelsea.

On the close proximity of the two clubs training grounds to each other, Mazzarri added.

“We will watch them (over the fence) and they will watch us.”

Arsene Wenger

At his pre-match press conference Arsene Wenger spoke of the threat posed by the Watford strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.

“They were very efficient last year with the two strikers up front together, Ighalo and Deeney,” Wenger said. “One of the keys for us will be to keep them quiet.

I rate Deeney because he’s a player who has technical quality first of all, but he’s also a fighter. To find a player who combines these two things is not easy.

He’s very strong in the challenges, the duels, and in the link play as well. I was impressed by him last year.”

On Arsenal still seeking a first win of the season, Wenger added.

“We need a first win after our game at Leicester. Of course the international break comes too soon because players go away with their national teams [and] are not ready yet to start for us yet in the Premier League, because we had to rest them as they’ve played in international games.

Not everybody is up to speed completely. We still have some players who are a little bit behind.”

Team News

Watford

Walter Mazzarri is unlikely to start new signings Daryl Janmaat, Younes Kaboul and Roberto Pereyra.

Fit-again Isaac Success they are in contention, but Mazzarri is not expected to make many changes to the team that last week lost 2-1 to Chelsea.

He rotated his squad for Tuesday’s 2-1 EFL Cup defeat by Gillingham, but indicated those selected against Chelsea deserve another chance.

Provisional squad: Gomes, Pantilimon, Amrabat, Prodl, Britos, Kaboul, Cathcart, Nyom, Janmaat, Holebas, Behrami, Guedioura, Zuniga, Capoue, Pereyra, Anya, Sinclair, Vydra, Deeney, Ighalo, Success

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has eased Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud back following their Euro 2016 exertions. Koscielny started and played the full 90 minutes last Saturday against Leicester City. Whilst Ozil and Giroud made brief substitute appearances in the same match. Wenger confirmed Ozil is close to be selected to start against Watford, but conceded that Giroud is unlikely to be recalled.

Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Alex Iwobi (thigh), Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson (all knee) are still missing for the Gunners.

Provisional squad: Cech, Ospina, Debuchy, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Xhaka, Cazorla, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Akpom, Giroud.

Referee

Kevin Friend

Prediction

Arsenal to pick up their first three points of the season with a 3-1 win.

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