Arsenal will be looking to pick up their first win of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign when they travel to Watford, who are also awaiting their maiden victory (3pm Saturday).
Arsene Wenger’s charges ground out a 0-0 draw at Leicester City last time out, a result which followed on from their opening day defeat by Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal’s start to the campaign has not exactly placated supporters who have grown disgruntled with the club’s transfer policy over the summer. Granit Xhaka (pictured) and young defender Rob Holding are the only new additions despite the fact that the Gunners require further reinforcements at the top of the pitch and in the heart of the backline.
Wenger and his players will therefore be under pressure to deliver the goods this weekend. Were they to fall short of picking up all three points for a third consecutive week, the scrutiny would increase even more ahead of the final few days of the transfer window and the upcoming international break. The five-point gap currently separating Arsenal from top spot is easily surmountable at this early stage, but falling eight points behind would see them playing a game of catch-up virtually from the get-go.
Watford have also picked up just a single point from the six available so far, although that return is not too disappointing given the identity of their two opponents. A draw at Southampton was a good result and a narrow 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea the following week was far from a disgraceful outcome.
Watford will still be desperate to get off the mark for the season, though, and taking a scalp as big as Arsenal’s would serve as a major boost to the confidence and self-belief around the camp. That would be much-needed after Walter Mazzarri’s men slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Gillingham in the second round of the English Football League Cup this week.
Arsenal will be unable to call upon the services of Danny Welbeck (knee), Alex Iwobi (thigh), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Per Mertesacker (knee), Gabriel Paulista (ankle) and Carl Jenkinson (knee). Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud could be included in Wenger’s starting XI for the first time this season. Giroud’s likely return would see Alexis Sanchez shift to his usual role on the left flank, with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the leading contenders for a place on the other side. Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla are all vying for the two spots in central midfield.
Watford will have to make do without Brice Dja Djedje, although Isaac Success could make his Premier League debut after recovering from a muscle strain. Mazzarri will again employ his favoured 3-5-2 formation, with Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney partnering one another up front. Midfielder Etienne Capoue will be essential in the centre of the park. He is Watford’s only Premier League goalscorer so far this season, with two strikes to his name in the matches against Southampton and Chelsea.
Our Preview’s Watford v Arsenal Betting Tips
Despite their struggles in the opening weeks of the season, our preview’s verdict is that it is worth backing Arsenal to overcome Watford at Vicarage Road this weekend. A Gunners win can be backed at best odds of 10/13 with Unibet. They should have too much in an attacking sense for Mazzarri’s side, who will probably focus on sitting deep, giving up possession and trying to frustrate their illustrious opponents before breaking forward at speed when the ball is turned over
A 2-0 away victory could be the best option in the correct score betting market. Giroud – who is now surely ready to lead the line after his post-Euro 2016 break – looks like a tempting choice to find the back of the net before any other player.