After 11-and-a-half months it’s finally the last round of Premier League fixtures on the 2019/20 calendar, with Arsenal hosting Watford at the Emirates Stadium.
The Hornets are staring down the barrel, needing at least a draw to have an outside chance of avoiding relegation, whereas the Gunners come into this match on the back of a shock 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.
Good day one all.
Arsenal has been very hit and miss in recent weeks; notable wins over Wolves and Liverpool in the league was followed by a superb FA Cup victory against Man City, but defeats either side of The Reds clash have left us 10th-place in the league table.
Of course, it’s disappointing but we also shouldn’t ignore that we are in a period of transition since Mikel Arteta walked through the door mid-season. However, with next weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea still offering a shot at redemption, we simply cannot go into that match on the back of successive defeats.
As luck would have it… Watford come into this game having lost each of their last five games on the road across all competitions.
An incredible 3-0 victory over league champions Liverpool on 29 February, ending their then unbeaten league run, hasn’t given the visitors the boost they thought it would, as they won only two of their nine matches since (D1, L5). Nigel Pearson was dismissed just two days prior to their 4-0 trashing at the hands of Man City in midweek because of that failure.
If they are to dodge the relegation trapdoor then simply beating the Gunners may not be good enough, as they would also need the misfortune of Villa who will be equally desperate for a win against a West Ham team, that may already be on the beach. Not a great position for Watford to be in, but caretaker coach Hayden Mullins will be expecting from them to at least hold their end up.
With six days between today’s game and the FA Cup final, Mikel could field a strong XI, considering he already made six changes for the Villa game. Skhodran Mustafi, of course, is out injured so Rob Holding could come into the side alongside David Luiz and Kieran Tierney.
I think the toughest decision to be made concerns Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He was on the outside of the team but hugely impressed versus City, so whether he would make way for our new number 7, Bukayo Saka, will be telling this afternoon.
With Arsenal’s incredible home record since the start of the year, this fixture is perhaps not as daunting on the face. But Watford is such a petty side that if they feel they really are getting relegated, this match has the potential to get real ugly.
Be that as it may, hopefully we remind Troy Deeney just how big our cojones and send them packing to the Championship with a “you’re welcome” parting shot.