MX23RW : Friday, December 14 06:15:01
Mar 11, 2018 at 1.30pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Attendance: 59,131
Mustafi (8'), Aubameyang (59'), Mkhitaryan (77')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Arsenal vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the Premier League action as Arsene Wenger's Arsenal aim to end a losing league run when they face Watford at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal welcome the visit of travelling Watford in the Premier League on Sunday after ending a problematic four-game losing streak by beating AC Milan 2-0 away from home in the Europa League.

As for the visiting Hornets, Javi Gracia's side find themselves in woeful form on the road, but the Hertfordshire club have earned some standout results against the Gunners of late.


Big Shkodran Mustafi in action during the Premier League game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal on March 4, 2018© Offside

Arsenal come into Sunday's contest just a few days after producing a comfortable 2-0 win at AC Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey ensured that the Gunners left San Siro with two crucial away goals, as Wenger's charges turned in an impressive showing despite their recent troubles.

Victory over Gennaro Gattuso's side saw Wenger's men end a four-match losing streak, which had previously seen the Gunners lose to Ostersunds FK, Manchester City twice and then against Brighton & Hove Albion last time out in the league.

The Gunners return to Premier League action against the Hornets aiming to end a run of three consecutive defeats in the English top flight, though they face a Watford side who have managed to beat them twice in their last three visits to the Emirates Stadium.

Combined with the recent history between the clubs, Arsenal also face the difficult task of arresting a difficult slide on home soil. The Reds have won only three of their last seven home league matches at the Emirates and that has left them with serious implications when looking for Champions League football next term.

The gap between the Gunners and fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur looks largely insurmountable, meaning that winning the Europa League remains their most likely option of securing elite European football next term.

Progress in the Europa League does not mean that Arsenal can turn away from the league, though. Continuous slip-ups domestically after losing the EFL Cup final and performing poorly in the top flight will only increase the pressure on Wenger, who has just about bought himself some breathing room after Thursday's win.

Mkhitaryan will be returning to Premier League action after bagging his first goal for the club in Europe, and the Armenian will be hoping that he can open his account domestically against Gracia's men.

Recent form: WLWLLL
Recent form (all competitions): WLLLLW


Javier Hernandez heads in for West Ham United against Watford but the goal is disallowed on February 10, 2018© Offside

Watford boss Gracia is now starting to find his feet at the Hertfordshire-based club, and the Hornets have now won three of their last four league games.

It is on the road where Watford have come unstuck, however. The Hornets have not won on their travels since November. During that period Gracia's men have lost seven of their last eight away trips.

Watford have enjoyed some recent success against the Gunners, though, especially when travelling to the Emirates, where they have recently earned two victories.

Should Watford somehow be able to find a way past the Gunners at home this weekend, the club would become only the third away team to win back-to-back Premier League victories at the Emirates, building on records already set by Chelsea and Swansea City.

The Hornets actually lost their first seven Premier League contests against the Gunners, before notching those two wins.

Skipper Troy Deeney has history in this contest. The frontman launched a scathing attack on the Gunners' character after Watford beat them 2-1 at Vicarage Road in the reverse of this fixture last year, claiming that Wenger's men lacked "cojones".

The 29-year-old is likely to start on Sunday given his run of form lately. The striker has scored the winning goals in Watford's last two fixtures, handing the Hornets 1-0 victories on both occasions.

Gracia and his men look likely to be just about safe from relegation in ninth place in the table, but they will be aiming to avoid a knock to their confidence with another difficult clash coming straight after at Liverpool, before returning to Hertfordshire for contests against Bournemouth and Burnley.

Recent form: LDWLWW

Team News

Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin in action during his side's Premier League clash with Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium on October 1, 2017© SilverHub

Wenger has some real concerns over the fitness of four defenders - Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers could all be struggling to start.

The club's current defensive injury issues could mean that Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Rob Holding get the chance to feature. Elsewhere, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to return up top after being cup-tied on Thursday.

As for the Hornets, Jose Holebas and Kiko Femenia are facing late fitness tests before the game. Should Holebas miss out then Miguel Britos might slot in at left-back.

Gracia still has nine longer-term fitness problems to deal with, as the likes of Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley remain on the sidelines.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Xhaka, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Ozil

Watford possible starting lineup:
Karnezis; Janmaat, Prodl, Mariappa, Britos; Capoue, Doucoure; Carrillo, Pereyra, Richarlison; Deeney

Head To Head

Watford have found themselves in standout form against the Gunners of late. The club won 2-1 at Vicarage Road in the reverse of this fixture in October 2017.

The Hornets have also recorded two wins from their last three visits to the Emirates, with victories in 2016 and 2017.

Looking across the last six meetings between the sides, each team has won three, although Arsenal's last win over Watford came courtesy of a 4-0 home thrashing back in April 2016.

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We say: Arsenal 2-1 Watford

Arsenal's recent league run and their form at home domestically will perhaps hand Watford some confidence going into the game, but the Gunners will have had their spirits lifted after winning in Milan.

Mesut Ozil stood out on Thursday with two memorable assists and if Arsenal can carry some of the quality shown in Europe back to London they should have enough to beat Watford.

Deeney and his teammates do have a promising record against Arsenal of late, though, and the Hornets are likely to push the Gunners all the way despite the Hertfordshire club's poor away record in recent months.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Watford?

Arsene Wenger watches on during the Premier League game between Everton and Arsenal on October 22, 2017
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