Arsenal vs Watford | Sunday 7th November 2021, 14:00 | Sky Sports
Goals fans – you should be in for a treat with the first instalment of Super Sunday this weekend as there has never been a 0-0 in the 32 meetings between Arsenal and Watford since their first clash back in 1906!
Eyebrows were raised at the Gunners’ summer transfer window business as, after all, they had been reportedly outbid/maneuvered for what was seen as a marquee signing when Emiliano Buendia joined Aston Villa for just shy of £40m.
Instead, as well as securing the £30m permanent addition of Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid, Stan Kroenke sanctioned the big money additions of England duo, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale for combined fees just shy of £80m.
Fair play to them for having a clear strategy, with all six summer additions being no older than 23, showing commendable long sightedness but how would that translate to the need for short term results, competing at the top end of the table and a return to the once taking for granted nights of European action?
As we know the season couldn’t have started in worse fashion, an undercooked, admittedly injury ravaged opening night defeat against newly promoted Brentford including an all at sea White debut, followed by home loss to Chelsea where they were bullied to defeat and then a 5-0 embarrassment at the hands of Manchester City – all of which rooted a severely under pressure Mikel Arteta and his side to the bottom of the EPL table.
Ramsdale made his debut in the next game, a “relegation six-pointer” with Norwich, while White made his reappearance after missing the prior two games with COVID-19.
A streaky “1-0 to the Arsenal” win didn’t make the footballing world sit up and take note but it has turned out to be the start of an impressive run which sees the North London outfit now level on points with fifth placed Manchester United – both players have been key in the surge up the table.
Not only for their defensive attributes, none more highlighted by Ramsdale’s eight save performance in the most recent win at Leicester, but for both of their ability to play quickly through the lines bypassing several opposition players to get the ball in to the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe quickly allowing them to get at teams in much better, more advanced starting positions with less traffic in front of them – round pegs in rounds holes for the desired style of play, with Technical Director Edu’s clearly identified targets and patience in getting them deserving of credit.
The new confidence in defence has spread throughout the team all the way to the top of the pitch where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is once again looking a massive threat with all aspects of his game catching the eye.
Arsenal’s skipper made a rallying cry in the aftermath of the Etihad debacle stating “This is not enough and everyone needs to raise their level, look at ourselves in the mirror and work this out as a team” which he has carried out by leading from the front – beginning by bagging the winner in that crucial win over Norwich.
It’s not just the Gabon international’s his goals, according to the Athletic stats, leads Arsenal in pressures with 135 and has made 10 tackles in his nine EPL appearances – a positive comparison to last campaign where he made a total of 17 in 29.
The 19/20 on offer for a tackle here is long gone but we can still make the most of the 32-Year-Old Forward's attacking matrix – as he looks exceptionally lively at the moment with two goals, in his last three starts, scoring two in the first half in the last meetings with the Hornets for whom veteran keeper Ben Foster has never kept a clean sheet in 19 appearances when against the Gunners.
Aubameyang has notched the first goal in each of the last three head to heads and scoring 2, 2, 1, 0 & 1 in his last five EPL games.
As much as the 7/2 on offer is tempting to back a Aubameyang first goal I actually think the 19/20 with Sky Bet is the better bet, especially as he's never gone more than two matches in a row without scoring since the 11th of September, and up next a Watford side who have conceded the fourth-most goals in the EPL, for that reason I’m also going to add a brace for him too at a best price of 9/2 with the same firm.
A fast start could be crucial here for Arsenal, having been 2-0 up v Leicester inside 20 minutes, claiming 17 points in the last 21 league games, winning three of the last four games at the Emirates scoring eight in the progress.
The Gunners have also beaten Watford in their last three EPL head to heads and with Claudio Ranieri’s side fortunate to lose by only one goal against Southampton this looks another tall task for the Tinkerman.
The Hornets have lost three of their last four competitive fixtures, all without scoring and all of their six defeats this season have come without troubling the scorers, in fact Watford are only one of three sides, alongside Newcastle and Lincoln, who are yet to keep a league clean sheet.
Mikel Arteta’s side have been leading at half time in each of their last four EPL wins and I’m prepared to take the 11/10 with Bet 365 that they fly out of the traps again this game week and gat in front by half time and take the three points at the final whistle too.
Five of Watford's six losses this season have come by a HalfTime/Full Time scenario, with three of their five away games also seeing them trail at the interval and the full-time whistle whistle.
For those of you looking for an inplay option you could do worse than to keep an eye on Emmanuel Dennis to pick up a card – at odds of 7/2 at the off, I’m not sure the Nigerian international will start so can’t put him forward as a selection but if he does, or comes off the bench to make an appearance, it;’s definitely a play I will be looking to get involved in.