Arsenal will look to strengthen their chances of finishing in the Premier League top four when they travel to Watford on Monday.
The Gunners lost pace in their fight for a Champions League qualification spot after suffering a lacklustre 1-0 defeat to Everton last week, but bounced back on Thursday with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Napoli in the Europa League.
For Watford, they’re playing their first match since securing a place in this year’s FA Cup final – a first since 1984 – and could leapfrog Leicester, Wolves and Everton into seventh, with aspirations of securing European football themselves.
Read on for Watford v Arsenal TV channel info, stats, predicted XIs and team news.
When is Watford v Arsenal?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Vicarage Road
Date: Monday, April 15
Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST
Where can I watch live?
Watford v Arsenal can be viewed on Sky Sports in the UK. Viewers can watch the game on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, channels 401 and 402 respectively on Sky, and channels 511 and 512 respectively for Virgin Media users.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Monday will mark the 30th competitive meeting between these two sides, with Arsenal enjoying 16 wins to Watford’s 12. Incredibly, this fixture has only ever ended in a draw once – a 1-1 stalemate in the 1984/85 First Division season.
Watford wins: 12 Draws: 1 Arsenal: 16
Arsenal had been unbeaten in the league since February prior to defeat against the Toffees, but dropped points on Merseyside, coupled with Chelsea’s 2-0 win over West Ham, pushed Unai Emery’s side down to sixth.
As things stand, the north London club are three points adrift of current fourth-place occupiers Chelsea, but have played two games fewer than their top four rivals; maximum reward at Vicarage Road will see them climb above Manchester United and the Blues.
Having failed to qualify for Champions League football the previous two seasons, the onus will certainly be on Emery to re-establish the club in elite continental football, though he may feel a Europa League triumph could be a better avenue to prioritise, rather than focusing on domestic matters.
Further down the table, Watford are currently locked in five-way battle for seventh, a position that has been aptly dubbed ‘the best of the rest’, between Leicester City, Everton, Wolves, West Ham and the Hornets.
Javi Gracia’s men currently have two games in hand over the Foxes – who sit in seventh – but carry a wretched record against the big six, having achieved just one result this season – a 2-1 win over Spurs in September.
Arsenal have won the previous two encounters, but the Hornets triumphed on home turf last season – Gracia will certainly fancy his chances over his compatriot.
Will Arsenal finally keep an away clean sheet?
Arsenal are currently the only side in the Premier League to have not kept a clean sheet away from home this campaign, winning just five of their 15 matches on the road.
It is a record which has haunted Emery’s maiden campaign in the Emirates dugout, with his side conceding more goals (28) than they themselves have scored (26).
But it is not just in the Premier League that Arsenal have looked a shadow of themselves away from north London. In the Europa League knockout ties against BATE and Rennes, Emery’s side suffered defeat in both Belarus and France.
Defensively Arsenal have looked fragile this season, and with Sokratis Papastathopoulos serving out a two-match suspension for card accumulation, having reached the 10 yellow card threshold, a first away clean sheet looks all the more doubtful on Monday.
That said, Arsenal kept Napoli at bay on Thursday and looked relatively relaxed against the Italian giants; should Emery select a similar XI rather than shuffling the pack, a la Everton, then Watford could be in trouble.
Will Aubameyang start?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been something of a super-sub for Arsenal in recent outings, starting three of the last four Premier League matches on the bench, including the North London Derby at the start of last month.
The pace merchant is the club’s current leading goalscoring in the league (17) but has been unable to supplant Alexandre Lacazette of late, though Emery has often utilised the duo in a two-man attack across the campaign.
Given how cumbersome and error-prone his side were at Goodison Park, Emery will certainly be making some wholesale changes, and that may include a rejig in the final third with the lethal finisher either coming in for his French counterpart or partnering him.
Emery opted for the latter system against Napoli in the 2-0 win and it worked a treat as the duo wreaked havoc on the Parthenopeans’ defence, combining exceptionally well.
Jose Holebas, Domingos Quina and Tom Cleverley are all certain absentees for Watford, while Kiko Femenia, Isaac Success and Adalberto Penaranda are unlikely to feature.
Sokratis is serving a two-match suspension for Arsenal, while Granit Xhaka is a slight doubt for the fixture. Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck remain on the sidelines.
How everyone thinks Watford and Arsenal will line up
1. No Ozil, no Aubameyang
Emery rolled the dice and deployed two inside forwards against Everton, with Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan stationed out wide but with license to drift in. However, the move ultimately backfired as his side lacked the requisite pace on the flanks to really trouble the Toffees’ marauding full-backs.
With that, the Spaniard tinkered with his tactics against Napoli, playing the aforementioned strike partnership of Lacazette and Aubameyang, with Ozil dovetailing just behind.
However, the Guardian believes Aubameyang will once again find his role on the bench, with Alex Iwobi given a starting position alongside Mkhitaryan on the bylines. That also means no room for Ozil, who has enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks, or Aaron Ramsey, who starred on Thursday night.
The Guardian‘s predicted Arsenal XI (3-4-2-1): Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Torreira, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Lacazette
2. Deulofeu back in
Gerard Deulofeu was clearly not happy with his manager’s decision to drop him for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last week, but instead of sulking upon his introduction mid-way through the second half, the Spaniard answered his critics in style.
The Barcelona graduate turned the game on its head and almost single-handedly booked the Hornets a ticket in the final with his dazzling imagination for his side’s first goal, and the subsequent winner.
As such, the Evening Standard are expecting Gracia to start his mercurial marvel from the off, which would ultimately see Andre Gray drop to the bench.
Evening Standard‘s predicted Watford XI (4-2-2-2): Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney
3. Torreira-Ramsey partnership
Emery has experimented with a myriad of central midfield combinations this season, but the Lucas Torreira-Ramsey pairing on Thursday night flourished.
While Torreira broke up play and buzzed around the pitch in his bulldog-like manner, Ramsey was given license to elegantly surge forward and create in the final third.
The Matteo Guendouzi-Mohamed Elneny combination proved far too lightweight against Everton, and so, the Independent are expecting Emery to retain his Europa League partnership for Monday night.
The Independent‘s predicted Arsenal XI (3-4-2-1): Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette
Should the Arsenal that confidently brushed aside Napoli turn up against Watford then three points will almost certainly head back to north London. But given how unpredictable the Gunners are away from home, Watford have every chance of nicking a point. 1-1.