Jack Lang thinks Marco Silva's side are well placed to frustrate their visitors in Saturday's late game...
"Arsenal were in good nick before the break, but they have yet to win away from home in the Premier League. In fact, three games have yielded no goals at all"
Watford v Arsenal
Live on BT Sport 1
Hornets buzzing with intent
It's always dangerous to read too much into a single result, and Watford's reaction since shipping six goals against Manchester City suggests that wasn't the body blow it might have been interpreted as. Yes, the Hornets were outclassed that day, but overall the story of the season so far has been one of gritty achievement, typified by late goals in away games against Swansea (2-1) and West Brom (2-2).
Marco Silva is clearly determined to build on his promising stint at Hull and has whipped a fairly bloated squad into shape over the last few months. The defence, despite a number of key absences, has remained solid, while Brazilian youngster Richarlison is winning plenty of new admirers up front.
The Hornets will again be without Nathaniel Chalobah, Sebastian Prödl, Younes Kaboul and Craig Cathcart this weekend, but there could be a return for Miguel Britos, last seen committing a horror foul on Brighton's Anthony Knockaert a few weeks ago. The Uruguayan can be a liability with his indiscipline, but he offers an upgrade on Adrian Mariappa, who has been deputising at centre-back.
Changes likely for Arsenal
The international break is rarely kind to Arsenal, who always seem to be the unlucky recipients of frustrating injury news. So it is again this week: Shkodran Mustafi will be out for a few weeks after picking up a hamstring injury on Germany duty and Sead Kolasinac is nursing a hip problem. That will do the defence no favours, although Laurent Koscielny could be in line for a timely return.
Further forward, Alexis Sánchez is only due back from Chile duty on Friday, which means he may not be risked in the starting XI, but both Danny Welbeck and Mesut Özil are back in full training and are options. It could be a changed line-up this weekend, then, but the squad is deep enough that Arsène Wenger will still be naming a strong side here.
Recent displays have been broadly positive: the Gunners have won six of their last seven in all competitions, with the sole draw coming away to Chelsea. That sequence of results has nudged Arsenal up to fifth at the start of the weekend, and they will be keen to take advantage of the game at Anfield to gain ground on Manchester United or pull away from Liverpool.
This has traditionally been a tough fixture for Watford, who have lost seven of the last meetings. But they did win the last game between the sides, back in January at the Emirates, and are a stronger proposition this season than they have been in recent years: this is their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign (12 points after seven games).
Admittedly, most of the Hornets' best work has come on the road, with two draws and that City shellacking at Vicarage Road. But one of those came against Liverpool - a good result - and the other, against Brighton, was achieved with ten men. Arsenal are nowhere near the attacking force that Pep Guardiola's side are, so odds of [5.5] for the home win and [4.4] for the draw look approachable.
Arsenal are in good nick, but they have yet to win away from home in the Premier League. In fact, three games have yielded no goals at all, with that Chelsea deadlock preceded by losses to Stoke (1-0) and Liverpool (4-0). With question marks over their side, taking Watford +0.5 & +1.0 on the Asian handicap at [2.17] could be a wise play.
With Arsenal goalless on the road and Watford having drawn consecutive blanks at home, it's a surprise to see the unders at [2.48] here. True, the hosts have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 games against the Gunners in all competitions, but there's a decent chance that Wenger's men will take some time to rediscover their rhythm after a fortnight off.
The goalscorer options are not great here. Troy Deeney is back in the Watford side after a lay-off, but he hasn't scored in 13 league games - his longest Premier League goal drought. For Arsenal, Sánchez has a fine record against Watford (three goals and three assists in four games) but the Chilean hasn't scored in five league games and may only be on the bench.
With so much uncertainty in the Arsenal side it's probably best to wait until the line-up is announced, but Olivier Giroud may be an option at [2.5]. The Frenchman scored for his country earlier in the week and could be a handy option against such a physical team.
Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2017/18
Premier League P/L, 2016/17