Arsenal will face Watford in the fifth game of the Premier League season on Sunday, following a mixed start for the Gunners.
Their record reads two wins, one draw and one defeat. But, whilst there is room for improvement, their opponents can only dream of such form. They are yet to pick up maximum points and have already seen a change of manager, with Quique Sanchez Flores returning to replace the outgoing Javi Gracia.
In his search for all three points, it will be interesting to see what line-up Unai Emery chooses. Here, we predict his starting XI for the match at Vicarage Road.
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The Gunners’ goalkeeping number two, Emiliano Martinez, has made headlines this week by saying that he is as good as, if not better, than Bernd Leno. The Germany international will keep his place between the sticks this weekend but, if he makes any more mistakes like the one for Christian Eriksen’s goal in the north London derby, the 27-year-old Argentinian may get the chance to back up those claims.
In defence, we should see the same composition that faced Spurs two weeks ago. As the only left-back available, Sead Kolasinac will keep his place by the process of elimination, while it is much the same story for Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the opposite side. David Luiz and Sokratis are likely to be chosen at centre-half, but Rob Holding’s return to full training will certainly give the pair food for thought moving forward.
Against a Watford side they should expect to dominate, Arsenal could return to a 4-2-3-1 formation, which would see Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka line-up in the midfield. The former has had a fantastic week, as he was called up to the France squad for the first time, and his 7.35 average WhoScored rating so far this term speaks for itself.
The latter, meanwhile, has not been as impressive, picking up an average of 6.65, and was even said to have picked up a knock whilst playing for Switzerland. However, it does not appear to be anything serious, and he should start as he has done on three occasions already this season.
Next, we move on to the three behind the striker. Nicolas Pepe recently withdrew from the Ivory Coast squad to work on his fitness, and his freshness should see him keep his place on the right-wing.
In the middle, Dani Ceballos can expect to play in a more attacking role, just as he did in his best Arsenal performance to date against Burnley when he notched assists for both goals. That leaves the left flank to select. In an attempt to shoehorn both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette into the same side, Emery has asked the Gabon international to start out wide. However, with Lacazette recently being ruled out due to injury, the 30-year-old will be needed elsewhere. As such, Reiss Nelson should be reintroduced to the side after being benched for clashes with Liverpool and Spurs.
That means Aubameyang will lead the line. Having scored three goals in the first four games of the campaign, he will be hoping to add to that tally against the Hornets.