This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Arsenal will face Watford on Sunday in their fifth Premier League match of the season and the battle between Ismaila Sarr and Sead Kolasinac could have a telling influence on the match.
It has been a mixed start for the Gunners this term. They won their first two games, against Newcastle and Burnley, but followed that up with a loss against Liverpool and a draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
That, however, is considerably better than their opponents’ latest form. The Hornets lost each of their first three games and, while there was enough improvement in the fourth to earn a point against Newcastle, it did not save Javi Gracia’s job. The 49-year-old has been relieved of his duties, with Quique Sanches Flores returning to Vicarage Road for a second spell.
Both sides are in need of three points this weekend, and there is one battle in particularly that could decide the match’s outcome.
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Ismaila Sarr, meanwhile, is in contention to make his first start after signing from Ligue 1 outfit Stade Rennais. He could well be their secret weapon this weekend.
With the 23-year-old being a right winger, the two should line-up against each other. As such, it is a match-up that could have huge implications on the final result.
Sarr had an impressive season in France last term, scoring eight goals and providing six assists in the league from 32 starts. He was particularly successful in drawing fouls from the opposition. The 2.8 times per match he did so was the third-most in Ligue 1 last term. Rennes scored 21.82% of their goals from set-pieces, which indicates that they were helped by the Senegal international’s ability to worry defenders.
Kolasinac, meanwhile, made 0.9 fouls per game last term, which put him at number seven amongst his Arsenal teammates. The 26-year-old was, however, only dribbled past 0.6 times per match. Sarr completed 1.8 dribbles per game in the previous campaign which, while enough to give the Bosnia international something to think about, did not put him in the top 20 in France.
The former Metz man will also need to be aware of his adversary’s attacking threat. The five assists the latter contributed in the 18/19 campaign was the joint-fourth in the Arsenal squad, and he created an impressive 1.3 chances per game, which was only bettered by two of his teammates. Sarr’s 1 tackle per game last season did not stand out amongst his teammates.
All in all, this should be a clash between two attack-minded players. Whoever can make the most out of their offensive abilities against their opposite number could give their side the advantage in their next match.