In what looks like the most unpredictable season in English football, making victorious streaks look like a tall order even for teams like Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
Arsenal have won two league matches in a row and our next opponents are Watford. Given that we are about to pay them a visit and that they are also known as The Hornets, Arsenal are about to visit a dangerous nest. Hornets have stings to defend their hive and kill their prey.
And, just a brief look at the statistics will prove that the Hornets know how to defend their hive. They have conceded just one goal in four home matches so far and they are joint leaders with four other teams in terms of fewest goals conceded (via squawka.com). However, Watford may want to improve their ability to “kill-the-prey” as their attack is the joint worst in the league.
If there is a particular sting that has been going about things the right way, it’s Odion Ighalo. The Nigerian has scored five out of the six Watford goals according to Squawka. He is a tricky dribbler who can torment any defence in England as he has shown against Everton and Swansea this season. Our full-backs and central defenders will have to be very careful when handling the Nigerian. During his not-so-successful spell at Udinese in 2009-10, Ighalo played five games including a few with our own Alexis Sánchez (via transfermarkt.co.uk).
We haven’t played against Watford away in the league since 1999-2000. That match ended with a 3:2 victory but we had been close to throwing away a three goal lead.
Our team for the game pretty much picks itself with one specific dilemma.
Petr Čech is likely to take his place between the sticks. Hector Bellerin, a player who has created more clear-cut chances than any other player in the league (via metro.co.uk), is our first-choice right full-back. Nacho Monreal is our best option on the left side of the defence. Our centre back pairing may be the same as against Manchester United even if Laurent Koscielny is cleared for today’s game. So, Gabriel and Per Mertesacker to start.
Francis Coquelin is the first name on the team-sheet. Santi Cazorla is shortly behind him. Aaron Ramsey will enter the match on the back of a successful international break during which Wales have qualified for the international tournament for the first time since 1958 and Ramsey has scored his first goal of the season. Mesut Özil had a successful time with Germany too and should pick up where he left off.
Alexis Sánchez has been arguably the best player in the world over the last three weeks (sorry, Robert Lewandowski!) and he should continue his rich form against Watford as well. Finally, Theo Walcott is a safe bet as our central forward.
It seems that it’s going to be a nervy game but we should be able to beat our hosts. A 2:0 victory for us with goals from Alexis and Ramsey in order to keep breathing down the neck of the league leaders Manchester City.