Watford v Arsenal: defence v attack and the injuries

By Bulldog Drummond

There was a very interesting piece this week by Jason Burt, the Chief Football Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph on the topic of Watford and their new manager Quique Sánchez Flores in which it is said that “Flores was the best defensive coach they had employed and one who could organise them in a way to get the most out of an impressive midfield and attack…”

Certainly in terms of their current Premier League run Flores has had the best record – in 2015/16 when he was at the club they let in 50 goals, having scored 40.   Last season they conceded 59 – so yes they let in nine more than in his previous season.   But the key difference in my view was not the tighter defence that he brings, but the whole emphasis on defence.  For last season not only did the club let in 59, they scored 52 – 12 more than when Flores was with the club before.

So it is the strengthening of the defence at the cost of the attack.  In other words the statement, “Flores was the best defensive coach they had employed and one who could organise them in a way to get the most out of an impressive midfield and attack…” is untrue.

Watford’s goal difference over their four years in the Premier League has been -10, -28, -20, -7.  So yes, in Flores previous time at the club he managed to do much better in the defence / attack balance than in the two subsequent years, but last year was the best ever – and the team that achieved that has just been sacked!

Now we might well expect owners and their staff to talk gobbledegook when explaining their decisions, but surely it is the job of journalists to check and question, not instead, mindlessly to repeat what the press release says.

And in case you are interested, in the past four seasons, Arsenal’s goal difference has been +29, +33, +23, +22.  So in Mr Emery’s first year that goals for / goals against balance remained virtually the same as in Mr Wenger’s last year.

However Arsenal have now strengthened the attack – and we are awaiting the strengthening of the defence with the return of our injured parties.  So here’s the latest on the injuries.

Sadly Sports Mole’s statement “Arsenal to have fully-fit squad for Watford clash” is not what those of us who are a bit picky about the details would call true.   The Express has said, “Arsenal set return dates for Tierney and Bellerin in update to delight fans and Emery” and here the word “set” might be a little misleading.

But Rob Holding has played with the under 23s and did not play against Northampton with the under 21s, suggesting that the coaches think he is now match fit.

Meanwhile we are told Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all “nearing a return to action.”

Here’s an abbreviated version of the physioroom.com summary of the injuries…

Player Reason Further Detail Potential Return Status
Hector Bellerin Knee Injury Aug 29: “Continuing with on-field rehabilitation. Progressing well and aiming to participate in full training in September.” 30 Sept Ruled Out
Konstantinos Mavropanos Groin/Hip/Pelvic Injury Exactly as above 30 Sept Ruled Out
Kieran Tierney Groin/Hip/Pelvic Injury Exactly as above 30 Sept Ruled Out
Joseph Willock Calf  Injury 15 Sept 100%
Granit Xhaka Calf/Shin/Heel Injury Sept 08: “I’ve been suffering from Achilles tendon pain for a few weeks now. I felt it during the game. It hurts now, but it should be okay otherwise.” 15 Sept 50%
Lucas Torreira Di Pascua Other Muscular Injury No Return Date 25%

And just for fun Football.London has presented its own version of Arsenal’s strongest first team squad


Bellerin, Luiz, Sokratis, Tierney;

Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi;

Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang


Oh yes and one leftover from the summer…

“Wilfried Zaha axes his agent after failing to secure a move away from Crystal Palace” according to the  Daily Mail.  I am sure we all feel sorry for both of them.

3 Replies to “Watford v Arsenal: defence v attack and the injuries”

  1. Didn’t see the Arsenal ladies but they won against Fiorentina by 4 – 0. Well done the ladies on their return to the Champions league.

  2. OT: Stripes in football

    Research out, suggests people can have problems tracking players wearing stripes, if they are moving fast enough.

    Next, 😈 Mike Riley will insist that Arsenal wear stripes, or Arsenal opponents wear stripes; to give PGMO an excuse for why Arsenal gets shafted. Honest Gov, they were wearing stripes and we couldn’t see what actually happened.

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