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Arsenal head to Vicarage Road on Sunday to face Watford coming off an emotion 2-1 win against Wolves, and an ensuing ten day break, courtesy of the lack of cup and European football. The dramatic win against Wolves was undoubtedly emotional, not only for the fans, but for the players as well. The extended break from Premier League action could either provide the squad the time for emotions to level so full attention can be placed on Watford, or the break could cause the players to lose a bit of the edge and desire on display against Wolves. Watford are coming off a surprising draw away at Old Trafford.  Luckily for Arsenal, Manchester United failed to score despite having 2.9 xG and 66% of the possession. Watford have the leagues worst defense at home, conceding 31 goals in just 13 matches so it should be a match that favors Arsenals goal scorers. Look for Alexandre Lacazette to end his goal scoring drought in this one!

Although Arsenal will surely face stiffer competition in the last 14 games of the season every point will matter no matter where it comes from. As we have seen with our North London rivals, wins against ‘Big 6’ opposition count the same as against relegation-threatened opponents and every match matters.

About the visitors

Watford recently went through a identity crisis since 2020, as they tried to speedrun through all English League managers in a season, hiring and firing Nigel Pearson, Mullins, Ivic, Muñoz and Ranieri from July 2020 to January 2022. This should give you questions of the longevity of vulture impersonator, and known PL manager, Roy Hodgson – but I’m sure that the defensive tactics of the guy that gave you -25 goal difference 14th place Crystal Palace will live out his time at Watford.

Setting out in a 433 that quickly looks like a 4123 in attack, Watford looks like a team in transition, not really knowing what to do to stay dangerous.

 4 man offensive mid block, consisting of King, Sarr, Dennis and Sissoko

There’s hints of a team that wants to set up a mid-block, wanting to deny short passes into CMs and FBs with a 4 man first block, while the rest of the team look to strecth the pitch vertically in an attempt to pick up long passes and create turnovers.

 Crystal Palace managing to beat the first press, leaving a lot of central room to attack

Unfortunately for Watford, there’s some tactical adaptation to this type of press, in where the wide players need to be ready to cover the central holes that is created by strecthing the pitch this way.

 Crystal Palace first goal. Coming from a transition on the right wing, the ball is deflected of a Watford defender. But without the midfield and wingers tracking back, Mateta has all the time to collect the ball and find his shot.

In their match against Crystal Palace, Sarr and Dennis didn’t look comfortable with tracking back, leaving unnecessary gaps on the edge of the 18 yard box. When settling defensively, Watford runs the risk of dropping too deep and making it hard for themselves to get out of their own half again.

 Watford sitting with 9 players behind the ball, making it difficult to find an outlet, as Crystal Palace sit with 2-3 defenders to cover King.

When attacking, Watford look to release their young and brilliant wingers in Dennis and Sarr into wide areas, who then look to beat their 1v1 or look to hit King with a cross into the box. If this doesn’t work, and Watford has the opportunity to move upfield, it looks like they have an internal argument about wanting to move into a 343 or a 424. Banking on Moussa Sissoko to move around and link up play in wide areas, much of the chances created against Crystal Palace, was on the back of one touch passes between Sissoko and either Dennis and Kamara or Sarr and Femenía.

When Arsenal travel the long way over the fence from London Colney to Watford, I would expect the gunners to be facing a much more defensive team, as Roy Hodgson will try his best to deny Arsenal’s wide players to influence the game. That being said, if Watford look to establish their 4 man offensive block, I’d look to use the amount of central space left behind and force Watford’s backline to either drop deep or give up space in their wide areas.

When defending, Arsenal can possibly ease on their high pressure, and force Watford to try hitting their attacking forwards with long balls, as Watford tend to leave their forwards somewhat isolated, which would give Arsenal an easy time in collecting second balls and reapply pressure. That being said, Arsenal should watch out for corner kicks. Even though Watford doesn’t create many shots on set piece situations, they do sit 6th on the table for goals created from set pieces. As such, Arsenal should try to avoid giving away chances for Watford to swing in a cross from a set piece position.

What the Manager Says (courtesy

Very solid, very organised, very clear in how they want to approach the match and what they want to take from the match. We have to obviously do what we have planned and take the game in a completely different direction and that will be the challenge. It’s a great stadium with a great atmosphere, everything is tight and you know what you’re going to experience there.

Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)

12W 2L 1D

Goals Scored (Season Average)

Arsenal (Away): 1.45

Watford (Home): 0.92

Goals Conceded (Season Average)

Arsenal (Away): 1.54

Watford (Home): 2.38

xG per Match (via

Arsenal (Away): 1.32

Watford (Home): 0.93

Match Officials

Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Lee Betts, Richard West
Fourth official: Simon Hooper
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Eddie Smart

Match Facts (courtesy

  • 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.
  • Watford have earned seven points from a possible 45 available against Arsenal in the Premier League (W2, D1, L12), though they have only lost one of their last three home matches versus the Gunners.
  • Arsenal have scored in all 15 of their Premier League games against Watford – the only team they have a better record against is West Brom, scoring in all 26 meetings.
  • The Londoners have scored the first goal in 14 of their 15 Premier League meetings with Watford, with the exception a 2-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium in January 2017.

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