Just three weeks after Watford dumped them out of the FA Cup, Arsenal take on the same opponents on Saturday aiming for back-to-back Premier League wins for only the second time since the turn of the year.
There was enormous pressure on Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger when they took to the field for their last match at Everton, but they responded in the ideal fashion with a dominant display full of the intricate attacking football with which they are so well associated. Central to that was the continued inclusion of youngster Alex Iwobi, who after getting the nod in Barcelona showed a precocious all-round game and capped his afternoon with a well-deserved goal.
An early goal filled the Gunners with much-needed confidence on Merseyside, and they can really do with another here to come with the nerves of playing at home, where goals have been very much at a premium in recent weeks. Iwobi certainly appears to have breathed extra life into their forward play alongside the in-form Danny Welbeck, but in the wake of the cup disappointment they will be well aware of how difficult a side Watford are to play against as they look to retain faint hopes of winning the title.
With a Wembley date to look forward to in mid-April, Watford will be determined not to lose sight of the remainder of their Premier League campaign, with a dip in form recently having seen them slip to 14th place – albeit still sitting comfortably and free of danger. Despite a late Troy Deeney goal, they were off the boil for much of their game at home to Stoke City, where they struggled to gain a foothold in the midfield battle and had trouble defending on their left side throughout.
Having won at the Emirates Stadium so recently, the visit0rs may carry a slight psychological edge coming into this one and will be more than aware that they can be more than effective on the counter-attack. Etienne Capoue has a key role in terms of both defence and attack as he will be looked upon to shield the back four, but also provide telling passes to feed Deeney and his strike partner Odion Ighalo. Hold firm during Arsenal’s inevitable early onslaught, and they should be confident of taking something from this encounter.
The hosts may have goalkeeper Petr Cech back again after injury, but are still without Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla.
Watford have a near fully-fit squad available, with the only absentees being defenders Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban.
Last Meeting: It was not much of a contest back in October 2006 as Thierry Henry inspired Arsenal to a 3-0 victory, but Watford were guilty of missing some very presentable chances, not least when Damien Francis fired over from close range. Jordan Stewart’s own goal put the hosts in front before Henry made it two, and the Frenchman later set up Emmanuel Adebayor to make it three, sealing a fine afternoon for the North London side.