After a morale-boosting 5-0 thrashing of Southampton on Saturday evening, it’s a return to Premier League action for Arsenal with Watford up next.
Having beaten them 3-1 away in the previous fixture during the early weeks of the new campaign, the Gunners will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to eight matches across all competitions as they’ve begun 2017 with encouraging momentum.
Arsène Wenger revealed that the medical team will have to assess some players from Saturday’s victory. For the most part, everyone is available for selection bar Granit Xhaka, who continues to serve his four-match suspension.
Danny Welbeck scored a well-taken brace on his first start following a serious knee ligament injury and despite an impressive display for the forward, Wenger has stressed the importance of remaining cautious as he continues to improve match sharpness. As quoted by the club’s official website, “He’s very sharp but we’re still not out of it completely. We still have to be cautious with him. Where I agree is that physically he is ready to play, we still have to manage the times we use him and the times we rest him for a while.”
The 26-year-old was welcomed back with open arms and his performance is sure to have given supporters confidence in Arsenal’s attacking depth.
“We will do that [manage his fitness] in the next month and then after, hopefully he will be completely fit,” Wenger continued.
Mathieu Debuchy is back in full training. Although no offers have been made for the fullback, Wenger stated there is still a possibility that he could leave before the end of deadline day on Tuesday evening.
A few alterations are likely after Saturday’s win. Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sánchez and Olivier Giroud are all expected to return into the starting eleven.
Elsewhere, Nacho Monreal could return to start ahead of Kieran Gibbs – although the Englishman was solid defensively when faced with Cuco Martina down the flank and definitely deserves an extended run-in the side.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Coquelin, Ox; Alexis, Walcott, Iwobi; Giroud.
Watford’s surprise 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Millwall on Sunday means the Hornets have only won once since January started.
They’ll be eager to snatch a positive result from north London in a fixture no-one will expect them to win. This could suit their unpredictable style of play. Having alternated between a three-at-the-back and defensive quartet recently, it’s likely that Walter Mazzarri will try to quell Arsenal’s attacking threat by packing the midfield and creating opportunities through a patient pressing game.
Possible XI (4-4-2): Gomes; Holebas, Britos, Prodl, Janmaat; Capoue, Cleverley, Amrabat, Pereyra; Ighalo and Deeney.