Apr 2, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Sanchez (5'), Iwobi (38'), Bellerin (48'), Walcott (90')
Elneny (84')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Nyom (61')

Preview: Arsenal vs. Watford

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at the Emirates as the Gunners look to gain revenge for their recent FA Cup exit.

Arsenal will host Watford at the Emirates Stadium in their first match back after the international break, with plenty of ground to make up in the home straight.

Revenge may be on the minds of the Gunners too after they were dumped out of the FA Cup by the very same opposition just three weeks ago.


Arsene Wenger looks on prior to the Champions League round-of-16 second leg between Barcelona and Arsenal on March 16, 2016© Getty Images

The Premier League's post-Easter period begins on Saturday, and for Arsenal it is once again a case of playing catch-up in the title race.

The Gunners do have a game in hand over the two teams above them in the table, but with gaps of 11 points to Leicester City and six to Tottenham Hotspur, it is still a big ask.

Champions League football is not yet a guarantee either with the likes of West Ham United and Manchester United challenging, but with five points separating them from the chasing pack, their immediate focus will be on the top of the table.

Arsenal play before both Leicester and Spurs this weekend and so could close the respective gaps by three points with a victory, in addition to piling extra pressure on the two title-race novices.

There have been no signs of either buckling so far, though, and in fact it is Arsenal who have shown the greater wobbles, with a spell of just one point from a possible nine seeing them drift to the periphery of the title battle.

They did, however, return to winning ways in their final match before the international break, running out 2-0 winners over a lacklustre Everton side to cling on to their fading hopes of ending the 12-year drought.

The run-in is a kind one for the Gunners too - six of their final eight matches come against teams in the bottom half of the table, including games against four of the current bottom five.

There is only the Premier League left for Arsenal to focus on after their dreams of a third consecutive FA Cup were ended by the very same opponents that they face this weekend - a defeat that was swiftly followed by a rather more predictable exit from the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona.

They are now winless in front of their own fans in four games, including three consecutive defeats coming into this match - their worst home winless run since 2008 and their worst losing run in front of their own fans since November 2002.

Indeed, in a rare statistic for Arsenal, they have actually amassed more points away from home than at the Emirates this season, in addition to scoring 10 more goals on their travels.

A fourth home league defeat of the campaign this weekend would surely end their title ambitions, and could see them fighting more for their top-four spot in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Recent form: WWLLDW
Recent form (all competitions): LWDLLW


Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring with Nathan Ake during the FA Cup game between Arsenal and Watford on March 13, 2016© Getty Images

While Arsenal's season is on course to be another disappointing one, even a recent slump in form will not take away Watford's pride at what they have done this term.

Quique Flores may not rest entirely comfortably until the Hornets reach the magic 40-point mark, but with only one win needed until that happens, he can be reasonably confident that he will go down as the first manager to keep Watford in the Premier League.

For the first half of the campaign it even looked as though European football might be on the cards - a victory over Liverpool in their final match before Christmas took them to within one point of the top four.

However, since then they have managed just two league wins from 13 matches to sink down to 14th in the table, although four points is still all that separates them from the top half.

They went into the international break on the back of three consecutive defeats, the last of which came at home to Stoke City in a match that at least saw the Hornets end a three-game goalless run.

The main focus for Watford now this season is not the Premier League, though. Their victory over Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Cup quarter-finals set up a Wembley showdown with Crystal Palace on April 24, with one of the two out-of-form sides just 90 minutes away from the final.

Watford have only ever made it to the final once, in 1983-84, and should they go on to couple Premier League survival with their first ever FA Cup success then it may well go down as one of the greatest seasons in the club's history.

They can't quite afford to take their eyes entirely off the league just yet, though, and Flores will be keen to ensure that their final four games of the season, which include meetings with three of the current bottom four, are merely opportunities to increase their record points tally in the division.

Away form will also still be a concern - Watford lost just two of their opening nine away games of the season, both against members of the top four, but they have since lost four of their last five on the road, failing to score in each of those defeats.

Even so, they still have a better points per game ratio on their travels than they do in front of their own fans this term, and crucially have that recent experience of a win at the Emirates.

Recent form: LWDLLL
Recent form (all competitions): WDLLWL

Team News

Arsenal's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech acknowledges the fans following the UEFA Champions League football match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in London, on October 20, 2015. Arsenal won the match 2-0.© Getty Images

Arsene Wenger is sweating over the fitness of goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is rated at 50-50 to return having missed the last five games with a calf injury.

He has returned to full training, however, alongside Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky, although Saturday's match will come too early for those long-term absentees.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla are also still a few weeks from returning, while fellow midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey will miss this weekend's game as well.

Mikel Arteta could return to the bench, where he may be alongside the likes of Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud after the trio were all left out against Everton.

Watford have a number of question marks going into the match, with Sebastian Prodl and Valon Behrami both suffering from illness.

Joel Ekstrand will face a late fitness test over a hamstring strain, but Rene Gilmartin and Tommie Hoban remain sidelined.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Coquelin, Sanchez, Ozil, Welbeck; Giroud

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Jurado, Amrabat, Suarez, Capoue; Deeney, Ighalo

Head To Head

As previously mentioned, these two played each other just three weeks ago, when Watford scored with their only two shots on target to run out 2-1 winners in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

That result ended a six-match losing streak for the Hornets against the Gunners, including a 3-0 defeat in the reverse league fixture at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Watford have not beaten Arsenal in a league game since 1988, when they ran out 1-0 winners at Highbury.

The Dugout Podcast

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We say: Arsenal 2-0 Watford

This is a must-win game for Arsenal if they are to stand any chance of catching the teams above them in the table, and with Watford in poor form when it comes to the Premier League, it looks like a home banker. The recent FA Cup game does raise a question mark, but we think that Arsenal should run out relatively comfortable winners.

Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Watford?

Dortmund's defender Matthias Ginter (L) and his teammate Dortmund's Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (R) celebrate after the first goal for Dortmund during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Ingolstadt 04 vs Borussia Dortmund, on
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