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March 2021

Watford v Arsenal – the analysis. Wait, intercept, if that fails, foul. (And that’s not the Arsenal game plan).

by Bulldog Drummond.

A cheeky football journalist (you know the type – asks a stupid question and the writes down something the respondent never said) asked Mr Wenger this week if he thought that, given the fact that transfer doorway (or “window” as it is often known) expenditure had already exceeded last summer, and we haven’t had the last moment rush yet, would the current phase of wild spending exceed £1,000,000,000 (or one billion to the likes of us on normal salaries).

Mr Wenger replied: “A billion? Higher than that. I don’t know the final level but I’m convinced there are many, many clubs in England who have a big amount of money available who have not spent yet. Many. You can say all of them. Who has finished the market? Nobody. You will see how many transfers will happen in the next three or four days. You’ll be amazed.”

I wonder if that “not finished yet” includes Arsenal.

Turning to our latest accented player, Mr Pérez, he added, “He’s a late developer because he played in a different position. He has moved centrally and in a successful way. I think he has good link-up qualities, he’s good at receiving the ball and he’s a good finisher.”

And as Walter pointed out – he wasn’t even on the list of 100+ transfer rumours we’ve recorded through the summer!

Anyway, moving on… The PL league table is rather uninspiring…

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
11 Liverpool 2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 3
12 Swansea City 2 1 0 1 1 2 -1 3
13 Arsenal 2 0 1 1 3 4 -1 1
14 Watford 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1
15 Leicester City 2 0 1 1 1 2 -1 1
16 Southampton 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1
17 Stoke City 2 0 1 1 2 5 -3 1
18 Sunderland 2 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0
19 Crystal Palace 2 0 0 2 0 2 -2 0
20 Bournemouth 2 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0

As a result we are doomed to relegation, according to some, although for that to happen, Sunderland, Palace and AFC Bournemouth are going to have to do some catching up.  So we are next to Watford, who last season were in many ways a middle of the road team on many parameters, but they were noticeable for their yellow cards.  A grand total of 73 last season compared to Arsenal’s 40.  Only Villa got more yellows.

This it turns out comes from their style of play.  Their possession average of 46.3% took them to 17th in terms of possession.  Arsenal had the most possession at 56.9% across the season.   So as you might expect when we look at Watford’s home matches they were 15th in the league for possession.  But Watford were over 10% less successful than Arsenal in completing passes – although again as expected they showed a greater efficiency at this at home than away.

Now this is an interesting combination.  They have a low possession, but when they do have it they are good at completing passes.  Which gives us a team that is good at counter attacking at home – and that’s the game plan.

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To confirm this we look at interceptions and what do you know – they were top of the league with interceptions in home games – at an average of 20.4 per game at home, equal with Leicester in the number one slot.  But they also foul a lot at home – they were the fourth highest fouling team in the league in terms of their home games last season.

So now we can predict the game.  Wait, and attempt to intercept, and launch a counter attack.  If that fails, commit the foul.  No reason to think anything has changed this season.

Here’s our team.   There’s one place I am not sure on – does the right wing attacking midfield go to the Ox or Theo?



Bellerin Holding Koscielny Monreal

Coquelin   Xhaka

Walcott/Ox    Ozil    Alexis


As for those who are beached….

Well the biggest beach bums of all still has to be the match preview team at the Guardian.   Having had Gnabry in our squad while he was actually playing in Brazil, the Guardian is now including as Arsenal subs players who played last night for the under 23s!  That, I can assure you, will not happen.   So Reine-Adélaïde and Akpom who played will not, as the Guardian suggested, be on the beach today.  Nor will Campbell – another of their beach party.  He is, in case you missed it, already away on loan.   Which more or less leaves the beach as containing…

Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Elneny, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo, Cazorla.

That is rather a strongish looking beach, and when the two new players arrive ’twill be even more impressive.   We really do need some more injuries to make more room – we are so clearly not living up to expectations in that department.

Thus and therefore, here is the injury file – and shock horror, anti-Wengerians close your eyes because again we are not top of the league!!!!!!!

1 West Ham United 10
2 Sunderland 10
3 Liverpool 8
4 Everton 7
5 Middlesbrough 7
6 Crystal Palace 7
7 Arsenal 6
8 Hull City 6
9 Stoke City 5
10 Manchester City 5
11 Chelsea 4
12 Southampton 4
13 West Bromwich Albion 3
14 Bournemouth 2
15 Watford 2

Arsenal’s injured are (in order of possible return) Ramsey, Iwobi, Gabriel, Jenkinson, Welbeck, Mert.  In theory at least Ramsey and Iwobi should be available for the game on the weekend of 10 September.

Onto the facts.

Arsenal have been drawing at half time and full time in their last four away games, so clearly time to get that sorted.  In fact our away form at the end of last season was

  • 3-3 at West Ham
  • 0-0 at Sunderland
  • 2-2 at Man City

Anyway, we all know Arsenal can’t defend which is why they have not conceded a single goal in five of the last seven league games.  Watford have let in two goals in six of their last seven games however and have failed to win any of their last five games in the Premier League.  They were also knocked out of the League Cup by the mighty Gillingham.

Arsenal have won their last six league games against Watford, scoring a total of 16 goals while Watford have won only two of their 10 Premier League home games in 2016.  In both cases the Watfordian victories were against now relegated teams. 

Watford have had three shots on target and 11 shots en masse, plus the lowest number of touches in the opposition penalty area in the two games so far this season in the league.   Some of this can be down to the fact that they are the only team thus far to have picked a side with an average age over 30.

So it is time to remember that Arsenal have lost just one Premier League away game in 2016 (W2, D7) – a remarkable record and we are three short of becoming the second team, after Manchester United, to score 700 Premier League away goals.   (You will of course recall that the road to the unbeaten season started with staggering away form including an unbeaten away season).

The BBC’s SAM computer gives the most probable score as 1-1, but with its normal sense of split personality it also has the most probable outcome as an away win.  So Arsenal to win 1-1.

Recent Posts

Two of today’s anniversaries

  • 27 August 1932: The run of three consecutive league championships began with Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1.  The first goal of this unique run was scored by Reg Stockill.  He only played four games in the season – but scored three.
  • 27 August 1988: Steve Bould league debut for Arsenal in 5-1 away defeat of Wimbledon in the opening fixture of the campaign.  Smith got 3 – the only hattrick all season.


39 comments to Watford v Arsenal – the analysis. Wait, intercept, if that fails, foul. (And that’s not the Arsenal game plan).

  • OlegYch

    i smell a 0-2 win

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Mr Drummond, with all said and considered, I am in total agreement with your Gunners starts and bench. But I think the Boss will give Walcott the starting preference to start ahead of the Ox who will then start from the bench.

    The Gunners are poised to put the Hornets to the gunpowder shoot this afternoon at the Vicarage Road Stadium to collect all 3 points at stake as battle spoils over the desperate to sting Hornets. Despite their attacks, I didn’t see any Hornet succeeding to sting any Gunner even once during the period this encounter had lasted this afternoon between the Hornets and the Gunners. But I saw the Gunners after the encounter has ended taking home all the 4 Hornets they’ve downed as additional battle spoils haven earlier shot into the pack of the swapping Hornets. But I did not sse any Gunner that got stung by any Hornet at all during the encounter.

    So at the end of this battle for the 3 points at stake between the Hornets and the Gunners, the Gunners collected all the 3 points and also took home to the Ems all the 4 Hornets they had downed as their total battle spoils.
    Full-time Scores: Watford 0-4 Arsenal.

  • Andy Mack

    Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Ozil, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis

    Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Chambers, Wilshere, Elneny, Coquelin, Giroud

  • Andy Mack

    What odds Capoue getting a Card in the 1st 5 minutes?
    Quite low I’d guess.

    But what about the odds of him committing a ‘card worthy’ offence in the 1st 5 minutes?
    Pretty high IMO.

  • para

    I expect Arsenal to win, but Arsenal can sometimes misfire, so i wish for a great game for us and 2 points. A few goals would be good too! 🙂

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Mr Drummond, the Boss starts and bench are out as follows:
    Bellerin Holding Koscielny Monreal
    Cazorla Xhaka
    Walcott Ozil Oxchambo

    Bench: Ospina Gibbs Chambers Coquelin Elneny Wilshere Giroud.

    Have we forgotten the Boss has in 4 matches now been starting Alexis trying to convert him to a striker to see if it will workout well for us. Hence the said to still be lacking a bit of fitness Olivier Giroud is benched. And the Boss has decided to start Cazorla as the deep lying preferring him to DM Coquelin taking that role today as we thought he might do. He’s also starting the Ox in the mid-left since he has started Alexis at the pivot to lead the line for us.
    That’s all to it. I know you would have known all these but I feel like exercising my brain a little.

  • Gord

    I have some questions of today’s game.

    1. What muppet made the stupidist predictions?
    2. What former Gunner made the stupidist predictions?
    3. What muppet did the stupidist commentary?
    4. What former gunner did the stupidist commentary?

    Maybe we can see some patterns in that data set?

    My prediction for the worse medja coverage (where some coverage is actually attempted) is ESPN, the worldwide leader in being ESPN.


  • Gord

    Having posted that comment, I refresh the screen where Sports Mole commentary was building up, and I immediately killed that tab in my browser. What a waste of oxygen. Bash, bash, bash. Nothing is good enough. And the game hasn’t even started yet.


  • Gord

    1. What muppet made the stupidist predictions?

    That would usually be me.

  • Gord

    Tony, you don’t count. You aren’t a muppet.

    Merson is a muppet, and a former Gunner. And I expect to see his name attached to “news” about Arsenal. But this morning, guess where the first headline of his I seen came from? South Texas! I didn’t know that anyone in South Texas even knew what association football was.


  • Gord. I am glad that I am not a muppet, but not sure about the swtatement that “Tony, you don’t count.”

    Yes I do

    One, two, three, four, five.

    Do that quite often.

  • Menace

    Five alive broadcasting the game. So I’ve got something to keep me busy.

    Gord you should be able to pick this broadcast via BBC site.

  • Leon

    Tony & Walter= Statler & Waldor f?

  • 0-2

    Alexis scores – quick movement, sweeping move, awarded by goal line technology

  • Menace

    Watford 0 Arsenal 2 goal by Alexis helped by goal line technology.

  • Menace

    Gord – Tony does count. He also adds up.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Well I must say that has been a satisfying half of football. We looked a little stale during the middle part of the half but after holding off Watford’s little push back we took control again.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    On another point. I watched the Spurs Liverpool match and it was a good entertaining match. I think Spurs had maybe 3 chances all game and scored on one of them. Liverpool had at least a half dozen good chances and really looked quick on the counter. 2 points dropped for both of them so a good result for us.

  • Polo

    Don’t take me home, please don’t take me home,
    I don’t think you understand,
    I want to stay here, drink all the beers,
    With my Arsenal friends.
    Don’t take me home, please don’t take me home,
    I don’t think you understand,
    I want stay here, sing and cheer,
    With the Arsenal fans.

    Woohoo 0-3 COYG!!!!!

  • Leon

    Unable to watch on a stream, so listening on 5Live. The commentators are laying into Kevin Friend over two pro Arsenal decisions. About time something went our way.

  • para

    I did ask for goals, another 3(for Arsenal, to avoid any misunderstandings) please.

  • Gord

    I got to see about half of the game on TV, but I missed the first goal entirely, and only caught the replays of the other two. I thought Ozil’s header was very nice.

    Watford doesn’t seem to be getting the cards I was expecting.

    The first thing I thought in seeing the game, is the teams are matter and anti-matter: one is yellow and black and the other is black and yellow. Well, except that both sides are wearing black shorts.

    Something want screwy with my counting comment. So, 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000.

    Where’s Arsenal 13? I think he would really enjoy this.


  • Andrew Crawshaw

    You can always get sound commentary from Arsenal Player, slight delay from real time (about 60 secs). You need a log in from but there is no charge. You get a good slightly Arsenal biased commentary but with no snide comments much better than the BBC.

  • Andy Mack

    Leon, Who are the 5Live commentators?

  • Andy Mack

    Gord, you may be suffering from ‘Binary Syndrome’ 10011110

  • Zedsaunt

    The only noise at the table came from me shouting at the third goal. A classic. Football as football, could have been fifty years ago, any time. One sweeping movement and Ozil runs in exactly as he should. Marvellous. Lovely to see.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Nothing screwy with your counting or with – 0,1,2, 10,11,12,20,21,22,100 etc. Mind you base 11 or higher can be a bitch

  • Josif

    The Xhaka-Caz duet might do wonders for our transition.

    Ozil’s goal was pure perfection.

  • Leon

    Andy Mac
    David Pleat is the co-commentator. Don’t know who the main one is. They’re not doing too bad.

  • Menace

    Watford score Pereyra. 1 – 3. Issues with Friend & Watfords coach. Pleat the bleat still going strong.

  • Andy Mack

    Tiny Totts former manager David Pleat.
    Says it all really.

  • Menace

    OZil & Ox off Jack & ElNeny on

  • Five Live really having a go at the ref, failing of course to mention that we have had year after year of awful refereeing. If this marks the change so that it really does all balance out in the end, then it is only 10 years late.

  • Menace

    Pleat getting close to the curb trying to find a faulty Friend.

    Reality is bias will look at the fuzzy side of the picture & call against Arsenal. Even the copy reporting was blatantly anti Wenger. There is so much jealousy.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Math report is on line

  • Mick

    Well done lads, 3-1 win a good result.
    Xhaka is a good buy, he uses the ball so intelligently.

  • Pat

    Don’t Guardian journalists check before they speculate on the team sheet? Doesn’t give much hope for the rest of their reporting.