Written by David Robinson
Watford will be looking for their first win of the season when they take on Arsenal today. The Hornets have taken a point from their opening two league games of the season and also exited in the EFL Cup midweek to Gillingham. A defeat to a side in the third tier is not what Mazzarri would’ve wanted early on in his Watford career but the way the side slumped to defeat would’ve left the fans demoralised from such a poor showing after several different faces were given a chance to impress. Prior to this the Italian oversaw his team put on a good display against Conte’s Chelsea but were left empty handed which in completely different fashion, left frustration due to the way the Blues were allowed back into the game and overturn the deficit. This time a positive result is that all matters as Vicarage Road welcomes Arsenal early on in the season.
It’s easy to forget that it’s just the third league game of the season when the Gunners come to Vicarage Road. Ultimately a win and four points from the opening three games should be deemed a good start with a tricky fixture list in mind. Therefore there shouldn’t be any real negativity going into the game when looking at the bigger picture. The side performed very well against Chelsea on the whole and deserved to take something from a side looking to challenge this season. While I personally think there would have been a number of positives to take from that game, it was a repetitive story that ended up once again with zero points. This could very much be on the back of the Watford’s minds against Arsenal. Another side at home last season where a positive performance ended with nothing following the last 30 minutes being dominated by the Gunners undoing all the good work previously done by Flores’s men. And while this is another completely new game I think similar matches can have a psychological influence on the way the game pans out. If the Golden Boys were to hit the front I’m sure supporters will fear the worst again that the side is not capable of seeing it out. A good worry to have as it’s difficult enough to take the lead against Arsene Wenger’s men. However this is a new season and under a new manager one game must not provide too many conclusions already so we can only see how this one might turn out.
The North London club themselves have only collected one point from their opening two matches and with the usual complaints over Wenger in full flow so early on it will be interesting to see how Arsenal perform at Vicarage Road. They are expected to be at close to full strength with Ozil set to make his first start. They are of course blessed with real quality however there are rarely many surprises when it comes to facing today’s opposition. The main weaknesses could be physically at the back where 20 year old Rob Holding is likely to play. The talented central defender is only a rookie at the club so making life as uncomfortable as possible for the former Bolton man should be a target ahead of the game. Elsewhere it is difficult to really pin any clear advantages in Mazzarri’s favour, I think the team should not be embarrassed about going long regularly if Deeney can pull onto the full backs for knock downs. On the other hand Watford had real joy by moving the ball nicely against Chelsea, this is something that should be attempted to replicate although I would expect Arsenal to have a greater desire to be in possession throughout the match. This is why having your own share of possession is important as allowing Arsenal to control the match is likely to end in a defeat.
There are a few new recruits that will be available against Arsenal. Janmaat, Pereyra and Kaboul could all make debuts although this is highly unlikely. I’m sure Watford fans will be eager for marquee signing Pereyra to make his debut. He as Mazzarri has stated could be the missing link in midfield that has become clear even early on in the season. Someone that can link the midfield to attack and really provide some genuine ammunition for Deeney and Ighalo who need to get going. Should the former Juventus man make his debut he will be key, first of all by showing how quickly he can slot into his new side and then by demonstrating the qualities that has come with a high reputation.
While Kaboul may also make his debut and provide to be equally influential on the outcome of the game, a more certain starter is Craig Cathcart. The Northern Irish defender had to deal with Eden Hazard last week and if he is isolated as a right handed central defender he will have Alexis Sanchez running at him. This is of course a key match up as Sanchez is a fantastic talent and has the quality to be a certain match winner. Providing cover for Cathcart will first of all be important but then it will be left to the former Blackpool defender to put in a good shift making a cohesive back five that is likely to have to marshal Olivier Giroud.
Watford fans, what are your score predictions for the game? Do you agree with the two key players? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by joshjdss