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Context is everything: Watford v Arsenal, the prognostications

By Bulldog Drummond

“According to Nick Ames in the Guardian Arsenal will keep enjoying false-dawn months like September, batting away Bournemouth, Brighton and BATE before coming undone when in-form opposition from the top five bowl up.”

An interesting thought.  I suppose it might be meant to be funny, but humour either needs to be based in reality, or to be utterly surreal, and this is neither.  Here’s the September run – and indeed what has happened since:

Date Game Res Score Competition
09 Sep Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 3-0 Premier League
14 Sep Arsenal v 1.FC Köln W 3-1 Europa League
17 Sep Chelsea v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
20 Sep Arsenal v Doncaster Rovers W 1-0 League Cup
25 Sep Arsenal v West Bromwich W 2-0 Premier League
28 Sep FC BATE Borisov v Arsenal W 2-4 Europa League
01 Oct Arsenal v Brighton and Hove Albion W 2-0 Premier League

Now it could be that a draw away to Chelsea doesn’t count in the Guardian’s computer as an Arsenal match, or maybe Chelsea just don’t exist any more, or maybe … well, maybe anything where journalists are concerned.

But in terms of reality a run like the run above is pretty hard to be pessimistic about.  Even the number of matches against other clubs from the top six so far this season is above average – so it is not as if the strange workings of the football computer are against us.

There is no hiding from the fact that the season’s first month was a disappointment indeed, but we’ve picked up and are on the way now.

Of course we have a defensive crisis, because that is de rigeur in journalistic circles – I rather think editors and publishers refuse to let articles through unless they say that, but I suspect the defence against Watford will look pretty recognisable as a regular Arsenal affair.

And we’ve got the possibility of Jack (who just a few days ago was supposedly desperate to leave Arsenal) now playing a few first team games from the off because “If Jack Wilshere keeps up Arsenal comeback, he’ll be a certainty for England squad in Russia.”    That headline quote in the Telegraph had no source and did not turn up in the subsequent article, but at least it was positive.

But here are the three headlines from the Independent showing on their site this morning under their “Arsenal” heading

  • Wenger reveals Arsenal’s defensive injury crisis ahead of Watford
  • Wenger lacks the tactical nous of Redknapp, says Merson
  • Wenger admits Sanchez and Ozil could be sold by Arsenal in January

All pretty awful it seems.  Anyway, let’s go back to the forthcoming match: Watford.

Watford do far better against Arsenal than you might imagine, having won no less than 11 out of 26 of the games between us.   This was due largely to a run from 1982 to 1988 when the clubs played each other 13 times in the League and once in the Cup.  In that spell Watford beat Arsenal no less than nine games.

We’ve played them 10 times since and won eight and lost two.  These games have averaged 3.5 goals a game, so it could be quite jolly.

As we know Arsenal have had a rotten time of it away from home in the league this season with three played, one draw and two defeats both very early on in the season.

Away games only

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 4 4 0 0 12 2 10 12
2 Manchester City 4 4 0 0 11 1 10 12
3 Watford 4 3 1 0 8 3 5 10
4 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 8 2 6 9
5 Burnley 4 2 2 0 6 4 2 8
6 Manchester United 3 2 1 0 7 2 5 7
7 Swansea City 4 1 2 1 2 1 1 5
8 Liverpool 4 1 2 1 7 11 -4 5
9 Huddersfield Town 3 1 1 1 3 2 1 4
10 Southampton 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
11 Newcastle United 3 1 0 2 1 2 -1 3
12 West Bromwich Albion 3 1 0 2 2 5 -3 3
13 Leicester City 4 0 2 2 4 7 -3 2
14 Stoke City 3 0 1 2 2 4 -2 1
15 Brighton and Hove Albion 4 0 1 3 1 6 -5 1
16 Arsenal 3 0 1 2 0 5 -5 1
17 Everton 3 0 1 2 1 7 -6 1
18 West Ham United 4 0 1 3 2 10 -8 1
19 AFC Bournemouth 3 0 0 3 1 6 -5 0
20 Crystal Palace 4 0 0 4 0 11 -11 0

But this is balanced somewhat by Watford’s home form, this table showing home games only.

Home games only

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester United 4 4 0 0 14 0 14 12
2 Arsenal 4 4 0 0 11 3 8 12
3 Manchester City 3 2 1 0 11 1 10 7
4 Liverpool 3 2 1 0 6 1 5 7
5 Newcastle United 4 2 1 1 6 4 2 7
6 Stoke City 4 2 1 1 5 7 -2 7
7 West Ham United 3 2 0 1 5 3 2 6
8 Brighton and Hove Albion 3 2 0 1 4 3 1 6
9 West Bromwich Albion 4 1 3 0 4 3 1 6
10 Everton 4 2 0 2 3 5 -2 6
11 Huddersfield Town 4 1 2 1 2 5 -3 5
12 Chelsea 4 1 1 2 4 4 0 4
13 Burnley 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
14 AFC Bournemouth 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2 4
15 Southampton 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2 4
16 Leicester City 3 1 0 2 5 5 0 3
17 Tottenham Hotspur 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 2
18 Watford 3 0 2 1 3 9 -6 2
19 Swansea City 3 0 0 3 1 7 -6 0
20 Crystal Palace 3 0 0 3 0 6 -6 0

I suppose on the basis that Watford are one of the worst teams at home (ranked alongside Tottenham Hotspur – who ever would have predicted that), and Arsenal are one of the worst away, that means it is likely to be a 0-0 draw.   But I suspect not.  Last season we won nine, drew three and lost seven away from home scoring 38 and conceding 28, and I’d expect an upturn in our away form starting nowish.

Which of course means scoring some goals.

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2 comments to Context is everything: Watford v Arsenal, the prognostications

  • Josif

    “Which of course means scoring some goals.”

    Or to get our good goals counted for a change?

    Anyway…

    Watford have played three games at home and two of those were big ones – 3:3 v Liverpool (all their home goals were scored in that game and the referee review would have probably shown the third one should have not been given) and heavy 0:6 defeat v Man City.

    Our first away victory last season and the first away game in which we scored goals was against Watford (3:1). An early penalty from Santi, a scrappy finish from Alexis and a fantastic bullet header from Mesut after a perfect cross from Alexis. That Mesut’s goal and Alexis’ assist were extremely underrated as it had looked like nobody else on the stadium aside from Mesut and Alexis knew what would happen. Things got a bit messy in the second half as Pereyra pulled one back for Watford but that was it.

    We did lose in the reverse fixture, in arguably the worst performance at home in ages. Iwobi was the only player to get out of the game with some credit (and with a goal to his name). Steve Bould was in charge for the game.

  • MickHazel

    I have seen numerous headlines this week saying we have an injury crisis and predicting impending doom as a result. I now see Kos, Welbeck, Ozil, Coquelin, Kolasinac all trained today and are available for tomorrows game.
    Injury crisis?
    What injury crisis!

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