Watford vs Arsenal team news, predictions, match facts, odds and more
WATFORD v ARSENAL: Quique Sanchez Flores will look to get the Hornets buzzing on his return… but will Unai Emery’s deadly front three spoil the party at Vicarage Road?
- Watford host Arsenal in Premier League on Sunday afternoon at Vicarage Road
- Quique Sanchez Flores was reappointed Watford boss during international break
- Javi Gracia was sacked as boss with the club rooted to the bottom of the table
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co will be out to haunt the Hornets’ defence
- Watford v Arsenal, Vicarege Road, Sunday 4.30pm
Watford haven’t exactly lived up to their nickname so far this season. The Hornets have lacked their usual sting and couldn’t have got off to a tougher start with them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.
Watford threw up a huge surprise during the international break when they sacked Javi Gracia, after he picked up just one point from their first four matches having led them to the FA Cup final and an 11th-placed finish Premier League finish last season.
Watford replaced him with none other than former manager Quique Sanchez Flores just 30 minutes after the departure was announced – and he is now, incredibly, the club’s 11th manager in just eight years.
Watford are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with just one point from four games
But life goes on and the Hornets will be looking to put a sting into the tail of Arsenal come Sunday afternoon at Vicarage Road as they aim to pick up their first victory of the season.
The task ahead though for Flores is tough as he prepares to set up against Arsenal’s deadly trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.
Unai Emery’s men will want to spoil the party on the weekend after stumbling in their last two league matches, losing 3-1 at Liverpool before being held to a 2-2 draw at home against north London rivals Tottenham.
But, Arsenal must be careful about a former player, in the form of Danny Welbeck, who will be hoping to get his Watford account up and running.
Arsenal’s fearsome front three will be hoping to put Watford to the sword on Sunday afternoon
Watford will be without defender Craig Cathcart who sustained a tear in his thigh over the international break. The Hornets are also without club captain Troy Deeney after he underwent knee surgery in August.
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette will be sidelined until October with an ankle injury. The 28-year-old had been playing through the pain, but has now been told to rest the problem. Nicolas Pepe is fit to play but fellow summer recruit Kieran Tierney (groin) is still not yet ready to make his debut. Rob Holding (knee) is closing in on a return but the game could come too soon, while Hector Bellerin (knee) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) are further away as they step up their recovery.
What the bosses are saying
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores said: ‘Defence is the most important thing in all the collective sports. Defence is the key for everything. If you want to attack well it is necessary to defend well.
‘I follow a lot of NBA and when Toronto Raptors won the NBA, some journalist goes to the coach and asked what is the key. He said the key was the passion and the defence. This is the base for everything. It could be good for Watford.’
Arsenal boss Unai Emery said: ‘I think now with Quique Sanchez Flores, they are going to continue working well like they were doing with Javi Gracia.
‘We are going to respect them and prepare for the match thinking of us in the beginning and after, respecting them with their characteristics.
‘After, some things can change. Watford are going to be the same in their great spirit like a team and also they are going to push a lot in Watford with their supporters. They have very good players.
Unai Emery (right) is hoping his Arsenal side avoid a new manager bounce while at Watford
What the bookies say
It comes as no surprise that the Gunners head into the Premier League encounter as big favourites, with odds of 19/20 to win, while a Watford victory is priced at 5/2. A stalemate is 11/4.
MailOnline Sport prediction
Aubameyang has started the season in fine form, scoring three goals in four matches and he heads into Sunday’s clash as the most likely opening scorer. The Gabon international is priced at 15/4.
It should be a tight affair with Arsenal’s woeful away form of late and it could be decided by the narrowest of margins. For the Gunners to win by one goal, it’s 3/1.
THE STATS THAT MATTER
- Watford have lost five of their six Premier League home games against Arsenal, coming from behind to win the other 2-1 in October 2017.
- Arsenal have won their last three Premier League meetings with Watford, keeping a clean sheet each time. Indeed, Watford were the only side not to score against the Gunners in the Premier League last season.
- None of the 12 top-flight meetings between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road have finished level – Watford won five of the first six such games (L1), while Arsenal have won five of the most recent six (L1).
- Watford haven’t lost their opening three home league matches of a season since the 1991-92 campaign – the Hornets won their opening three at Vicarage Road last season.
- Arsenal have conceded nine penalty goals in the Premier League since the start of last season – only Brighton & Hove Albion have conceded more (10).
- Watford haven’t lost five consecutive home league games since December 2013 under Gianfranco Zola in the Championship, last doing so in the top-flight in April 1988.
- Arsenal have kept just nine clean sheets in 42 Premier League matches under Unai Emery but two of those were against Watford last season.
- Since the start of the 2016-17, no player has conceded more penalties in the Premier League than Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka (five, level with José Fonte).
- Watford go into MD5 as one of two Premier League teams yet to win in 2019-20, along with Wolves (W0 D1 L3); the Hornets haven’t failed to win any of their opening five league matches of a season since 2011-12 in the Championship.
- Only Mohamed Salah (52) has been involved in more Premier League goals since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s debut for Arsenal in February 2018 (44; 35 goals, 9 assists), with the Gabonese forward scoring the winner in Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Vicarage Road in 2018-