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Preview: Arsenal v Watford, team news, Welbeck to start, prediction
Arsenal have a great opportunity to close the gap on Chelsea when we take on Watford at the Emirates this evening.
With the run-away Premier League leaders playing Liverpool at Anfield we simply have to be ready to take advantage of any slip-up from the Blues by collecting all three points against Watford.
We currently sit eight points adrift in second-place but a win tonight coupled with Chelsea hopefully losing at Anfield would see the gap cut to five points ahead of our crucial showdown at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The next five days will be pivotal in the title race. If Chelsea win their next two then it’s game over. But two defeats for Conte’s men coupled with two wins for Arsenal and it’s game on.
But let’s take it one game at a time and we have to focus on Watford, not what the Chavs are doing. We warmed up for the game in perfect style after thrashing Southampton 5-0 in the FA Cup so let’s hope for another similar performance tonight.
We have no fresh injury worries to contend with so Arsene Wenger has a strong squad to choose from and he has plenty of selection headache’s after the win at St Mary’s.
The likes of Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are certain to be recalled to the starting eleven after being rested at the weekend.
Mohamed Elneny is still away at the Africa Cup of Nations while Santi Cazorla remains unavailable as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.
Granit Xhaka serves the second of his four-game ban but Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin will be fresh after being left out against Southampton – although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping to keep his place.
The Ox was excellent in a central midfield role at the weekend and I’d love to see him keep his place tonight. Ramsey is struggling to influence games like he did a couple of years ago and I’m not a fan of him alongside Coquelin.
Up front, I’d like to see Welbeck keep his place after a superb display against Southampton. As long as he’s able to start again so soon after making his first start of the season, I’d go with Danny ahead of Giroud. Walcott should certainly keep his place after bagging a hat-trick on Saturday.
That’s the side I’d play but I fully expect Wenger to go with Ramsey alongside Coquelin while he’ll probably also start Giroud in place of Welbeck.
We’ve won our last seven league matches against Watford averaging 2.7 goals a game and they’ve only won one of their last 10 league games, so we should be confident of collecting all three points tonight. If we want to stand a chance of catching Chelsea, we simply have to win this evening, and I think we will. Arsenal 3-0 Watford.