Arsenal VS Watford – LIVE Reddit Soccer 07/03/2022
With three wins in a row, Arsenal are on a nice little run at the moment, and they are well placed in the race for fourth. Compared to Manchester United and Tottenham, the Gunners have got the advantage of a settled squad that are all pulling in the same direction, while they have far more strength in depth than West Ham. Mikel Arteta’s side have found the knack for winning games when they don’t play well or things go against them, which is down to the manager – he has made them a team again. Watford got a great draw at Old Trafford last week but they rode their luck to leave with a point and the same will have to happen for them to get anything here.
The Hornets have won one of their last 15 league and cup matches (D3, L11).
They have lost their previous seven Premier League games at Vicarage Road and 10 of 13 overall this season – an 11th defeat would equal a club record. Watford have won 15% of their Premier League fixtures played in March (W3, D3, L14), the second-lowest win rate in the month of any team to have spent more than three seasons in the competition.
The Hertfordshire club have kept three clean sheets in their six top-flight matches under Roy Hodgson, as many as they had in their previous 38 in the division under four different managers.However, they have only scored twice in their six games under Hodgson.No player has scored in more Premier League defeats this season than Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis, with the Hornets losing four times when he has found the net.
Arsenal won just two of their opening eight away league fixtures this season (D1, L5) but have won their subsequent three matches on the road. Mikel Arteta’s men have opened the scoring in each of their last five Premier League away games. They have taken 22 points from a possible 27 since back-to-back defeats at Manchester United and Everton at the start of December. The Gunners have dropped points in six of their past nine league matches away to promoted opposition (W3, D2, L4). Emile Smith Rowe is their top scorer in the Premier League this season with nine goals. He could become just the second Arsenal player aged 21 or under to reach double figures in a Premier League season, emulating Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99.
With West Ham and Manchester United, the two teams directly above Arsenal, playing Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively, this weekend, the Gunners will feel this game represents an excellent chance to make inroads on fourth place, regardless of the fact they also have three games in hand. Three wins in a row for Mikel Arteta’s side have improved the mood at the Emirates no end after what was a scratchy start to the year. For Roy Hodgson, the euphoria of a point at Old Trafford last week is tempered by only one win this year. Three points from the last safe spot, Watford’s need for a win is more pressing than Arsenal’s, but three league goals all year tells all about where their current weakness lies. Conrad Leach
Arsenal’s push for Champions League qualification could be given a huge boost this weekend. While football rarely works so simply, the fact that top four rivals Manchester United and West Ham face difficult looking games, against Manchester City and Liverpool respectively, could play into their hands. Indeed, Mikel Arteta takes his side to struggling Watford on Sunday in a game they will be strong favourites to win.
Should they do so, and results go their way elsewhere, it could prove to be a pivotal weekend. Largely, Arsenal’s improvement this season has come from getting more consistent results against the teams below them. Still, with Roy Hodgson’s team battling for their lives at the bottom of the table, there’s certainly an awful lot to play for. Emile Smith Rowe pictured back in Arsenal training ahead of Watford clash in big boost for Mikel Arteta
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Peter Etebo is ramping up his recovery from a knee injury for Watford and recently played in an U23 game, although the Arsenal game might come a touch too early for the midfielder. Nicolas Nkoulou is another looking to return soon but, after a hamstring problem, may not be risked.
After an impressive draw away at Old Trafford, Hodgson may be tempted not to tinker too much. For Arteta, Emile Smith Rowe has been pictured back in training this week after missing the win over Wolves although Takehiro Tomiyasu has picked up a fresh calf injury. In a boost for Arsenal, Kieran Tierney could make his return following a thigh problem. “We are in the same place as last week, we still have a doubt over Tomiyasu but the rest I think are in a good place,” said Arteta. The home side are likely to sit in and try to pinch a result, although Arsenal do have the kind of quality to punish them.