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Watford v Arsenal preview: team news & betting tips

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Arsenal get back to Premier League football following the international break as we make the short trip to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Sunday afternoon.

It’s been a solid start to the new season as we collected six points against Newcastle and Burnley during our opening two games before putting in a decent display during the defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

We then came from 2-0 down to salvage a point against Tottenham before the break and we really should have won the game so we’re more than worthy of our 7 points from the opening four league games.

Arsenal will now take on a Watford side who have brought Quique Sanchez Flores back as manager after sacking Javi Garcia at the weekend having taken just 1 point from their four matches so far this campaign.

Team news

Granit Xhaka is a doubt after aggravating an Achilles while away representing Switzerland last week but the midfielder is expected to be passed fit to feature for Arsenal this weekend.

Lucas Torreira was also withdrawn for Uruguay at half-time due to a knock so we’ll have to wait and see whether he’s available. Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are set to return to full training but won’t be available on Sunday.

Watford will be without Troy Deeney due to a knee injury but otherwise Flores should have a fully fit squad to choose from.

Betting odds

Arsenal have a very strong record against Watford so it’s no surprise we’re the even money favourites with Eagle Bet to win on Sunday afternoon. However, the Hornets will be hoping to get their first win of the season on the board and new boss Flores will be desperate to get his tenure off to a positive start. Watford can be backed at 11/4 while the draw is also available at 11/4.

Our familiar issues at the back continue to hamper our progress so I expect Watford to have plenty of goal-mouth chances on Sunday but with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe in attack Arsenal have more than enough firepower to cause problems at the other end. Both teams to score looks good value at 1/2.

I do expect Arsenal to come away with all three points and my prediction is a 3-1 win which can be backed at 11/1. Aubameyang to score first at odds of 7/2 looks a solid bet and if we combine that with a 3-1 win then we get excellent odds of 53/1. That’s got to be worth a few quid!



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Crystal Palace hero Wilfried Zaha opens up on failed Arsenal and Everton summer transfers

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Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has said that he will always love the club despite wanting to leave in the summer.

Arsenal wanted to sign Zaha but Palace wanted in excess of £70million for him, something which the Gunners could not afford in full.

Once that move fell through, Everton then came in for the Ivorian’s signature.

But Palace wouldn’t listen to their offers either – one of which was said to be £50m plus Cenk Tosun and James McCarthy.

Zaha’s brother Judicael spoke publicly about his sibling’s desire to leave Palace for Arsenal – who he supported as a child.

The former Manchester United winger ended up staying with Palace – the club he professes to love regardless of his summer wishes.

“To be honest what happened in the summer happened,” he told Palace fan site HLTCO.

“Obviously there were things that I was told that did not happen and I was not happy about it.

“I’m still a Palace player and I’m still at Palace and want to do well for the club.

“It’s an honour to play for Palace in the Premier League

“I love Crystal Palace. I feel like the fans and everything in the stadium is different to every club, it is a proper family club. Crystal Palace fans care about your well being.

“I will always love Crystal Palace – whatever happens.

“Even years back when I went to Manchester United I followed everything that happened at Palace. It will not end tomorrow if I ever move.

“I’ve been at Palace since I was eight. Palace is a special place.”

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Kieran Tierney close to Arsenal debut as Unai Emery provides injury update on three stars

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has offered updates on the fitness of defensive trio Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney.

The Gunners take on Aston Villa at the Emirates tomorrow (4.30pm) looking to respond to their disappointment against Watford a week ago.

Arsenal squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Vicarage Road in their second successive draw, both by the same score-line.

A much-changed side recovered to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening Europa League group stage game on Thursday but now getting back on track domestically is their chief ambition.

Their mid-week clean sheet will however have been more than welcome for Emery, whose side have once again struggled defensively this season.

David Luiz, signed from Chelsea for £8million in the summer, gave away a second penalty in just three games at Watford and Arsenal have already leaked eight goals in five league matches.

Such are their problems at the back that Arsenal fans are clamouring for the returns of several stars, with Holding and Bellerin long-term absentees while another summer addition – left-back Tierney – has yet to make his debut due to fitness issues.

But the Spanish boss has revealed the trio are all increasingly closer to 100 per cent, with former Celtic star Tierney closing in on his first appearance after moving south of the border for £25m.

Emery said: ”[Holding] is ready to play. We are playing on Sunday against Aston Villa and on Tuesday against Nottingham Forest [in the Carabao Cup]. These two matches I can decide whether or not to play.

“Hector Bellerin has had a long injury. He needs to go through a process, then we will see how he’s feeling. When he’s confident enough to play, he can start with us.

“With Kieran Tierney, his injury was shorter than Bellerin’s, but the same [process].

“He’ll play [Friday night], we’ll see how he finishes that match and then we have two matches Sunday and Tuesday so, maybe, maybe, he’ll be ready to play some minutes with us.”

Both Bellerin and Tierney lasted an hour of action unscathed as Arsenal’s under-23s drew 2-2 with Wolves last night.

Looking ahead to their return to Premier League action tomorrow, Arsenal have lost just one of their last 20 home games in the division, winning 20.

The Londoners are on a six-match winning streak against Villa, keeping a clean sheet in their past five meetings.

Villa, meanwhile, have lost their last nine away games in the top flight and are one game away from matching their club record of 10 straight defeats on the road set back in 1925.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang question asked over Arsenal future amid Gunners’ struggles

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Arsenal have a problem stopping other teams taking shots against them this season and can’t rely on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continually rescuing them in matches.

That is the view of former Liverpool and England striker, turned football pundit, Peter Crouch.

Arsenal have joined several clubs in the Premier League who have made an indifferent start to the season.

While they currently sit eighth in the table after five games, they are still only two points off second placed Manchester City who are on 10.

The Gunners success has been aided by goals from Aubameyang, who has six goals in six games for Arsenal in all competitions, however, it is the team’s defensive frailties that concerns Crouch.

He thinks a player of Aubameyang’s quality should be competing for trophies and is worried about the player’s future if the club keep relying on him to get them “out of hole” rather than helping them to win games.

“As things stand, [Arsenal] are miles away from being in the conversation for the title,” Crouch said via the Daily Mail.

“They have a chance of finishing in the top four this season, but you wouldn’t be in a hurry to put money on them and they look the most vulnerable in terms of losing their place in the top six.

“Yes, they are exciting and will score lots of goals but you wonder how Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will feel. 

“He’s genuinely world class and should be challenging for the biggest trophies but it can’t keep falling to him to get Arsenal out of a hole.”

After six games Arsenal’s opponents have taken 120 shots against them, of which 96 have come during Premier League games.

Although Arsenal beat Frankfurt 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday the German side still managed to take 24 shots against the Gunners.

And while Frankfurt, who sit ninth in the Bundesliga, failed to capitalise on their opportunities, other teams have shown they can.

Last weekend Arsenal visited Vicarage Road to take on Watford and ended up coming away with a draw against a team who currently sit bottom of the table.

The Gunners took a 2-0 lead into the break, thanks to a brace from Aubameyang, however, a second-half comeback from the Hornets saw the points shared at the end of the game.

During the match Watford had 31 shots on goal, a new a club-record for a Premier League game, and Arsenal ended up succumbing to the pressure at the back as two defensive errors helped their opponents get back into the game.

And while Crouch doesn’t think Arsenal should part ways with boss Unai Emery, he thinks until the Gunners’ defensive problems are fixed they are going to struggle this season.

“When Emery first arrived in England, I backed him,” he added.

“I thought it was ridiculous that people wanted to criticise him after just one game (a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City) and said a coach with his track record deserved respect.

“I still believe he deserves a proper opportunity to turn things around.

Hiring and firing quickly is no way to run a club and I don’t think Arsenal would ever go down that route. 

“There is no denying, though, they are being compromised by the way they are playing. Until they stop the shots coming in, they will be vulnerable to shooting themselves in the foot.”

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