By Walter Broeckx
As it seems that the rest of the Untold Arsenal staff is out on holidays, finding a way home after having been to the Arsenal AGM and probably having drunk too much, it is up to me to do the stuff we do before the match: trying to say something sensible (or less sensible depending on who writes it) about the match that is going to be played.
When I think of Watford I immediately think of Elton John. I still was a young man when he took them as their chairman from the bottom of the football league to the top division. In the year I got married they even got to the FA cup final but lost to Everton. I even hoped Watford to win that FA cup final against a then dominating Everton team. But it wasn’t to be for Watford. But it is one of those teams for whom I have a bit of a soft spot because of the Elton John connection. Is he still standing?
Anyway we are here to discuss football things. Watford is one of the new clubs in the PL this season. Having gained promotion finishing second in the football league championship last season. Watford is what we call in my country an ‘elevator-club’. Meaning a club that in their history is going up and down and up and down again. So never really much dull seasons for their fans. I think Arsenal is the other side of the spectrum compared to elevator-clubs. In 4 years we celebrate 100 years uninterrupted in top class football in England. We also celebrate 100 years in the top divisions in total next year if I added up the numbers correct. Watford has 9 years in the top division in its entire history by the way.
Watford has had a bit of a history of not going bankrupt on a few occasions in the last decennia. But they somehow managed to survive the storms that came their way. It is also a rather short trip to Watford from London as Watford is only some 20 miles or 35 km away from Islington. I never realised that they were that close to Arsenal to be honest. So no long trips to be made.
On to the match. Watford seems to have a few injuries but a few of them are very short term and so Behrami and Nyom could be fit to face Arsenal. Watford is currently in 12th place in the league with 10 points from 8 matches. They didn’t score much up to now with only 6 goals in total. But they do know how to defend as they have only let in 7 goals up to now. That is the same number as Arsenal has let in and with this they are leading that league table together with us and a few other teams.
So it looks like they are a difficult team to handle. All rather close results as their biggest defeat was 2-0 away at Manchester City. So we can expect a team that will play as a defensive unit and will be difficult to break down. And certainly when we keep in mind that they had 14 days to prepare for this fixture with all their players almost being at the club. This is why I would rather prefer to play another top team after an international break than a team that has lots of players who stayed at home during the break. They do have it seems a rather experienced defensive unit with Per seeing back one of his old defensive teammates from his Werder Bremen days in Sebastian Prödl.
But what about Arsenal?
The news from the injury front looks rather good. Arteta and Flamini are back fit and it seems that even Koscielny will also be back if he passes a fitness test. That leaves us with only Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky out with long term injuries. We have to wait to see how Alexis survived his Chile matches but looking at his performances we shouldn’t worry too much I hope.
One special mention goes to Bellerin. He spend a while on loan there two seasons ago. From a Watford fan on twitter I read great things about him but he was played at left back for some reason and slowly faded away a bit. Maybe a bit too young to really make the final step or… not giving enough time to learn from your mistakes as every young player has to do?
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Talking about performances: our players did excellent in the matches for their countries. The most important thing will be to keep this level up and transform it in to the Arsenal matches.
And what is maybe even more important is to focus on the match ahead of us and not much on the internationals or on the match after this match. The only important match that should be on ours and on our players mind should be Watford.
With almost all players fit some players will not even sit on the bench. Let me try to put a good team together for this match.
Bellerin – Per – Gabriel – Monreal
Santi – Özil
Ramsey – Walcott – Alexis
on the beach(is there one in Watford?): Ooooospina – Debuchy – Gibbs – Giroud – The Ox – Koscielny (if 200% fit) – Arteta – Flamini
That is how I would start this match. Try to score early and then rest a few players if the match allows it.
An option might be to use Arteta from the start and rest Coquelin. I expect Watford to be rather defensive so a real defensive midfielder might not be that important at the start of the match. And that way we could have Coquelin with fresh legs against Bayern where we will need him much more.
But there I go already and that after having said that we only should look at this match and not look further…. Just shows that it is easier said than done.
I hope the boys can pick up where they left if after beating Manchester United in a convincing way. Scoring a few early goals will be very useful and helpful of course.