Arsenal host Watford in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. Backing the Gunners to win 2-0 with Alexis Sanchez to score anytime at 12/1 with Paddy Power would be a very smart move here.
Despite a couple of recent scares, notably last time out in the league at home to Burnley and a draw away at Bournemouth, both involving incredibly late drama with a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw respectively.
With the Gunners often struggling in the second half of the campaign, resulting in no successful title challenge since 2004, a lot of critics have pinpointed their ability to grind out results when the going gets tough. Character cannot be questioned in the current squad.
The visiting Hornets are likely to attempt to frustrate the home crowd having lost seven games in all competitions, but the way Walter Mazzarri sets his team up, with the use of three central defenders, wingbacks and two strikers, will likely leave space in key areas of the pitch for Arsenal. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, to name just two players, mean the hosts are one of the most efficient attacking sides in the league and that could be a real difference.
Because the game will most likely be played on the edge of Watford’s box, the impact of Granit Xhaka’s absence through suspension after a red card against Burnley will not be as great as if they were playing a side with more confidence. Arsene Wenger will be able to pick an offensive lineup, especially considering none of the likes of Etienne Capoue, Tom Cleverley and Abdoulaye Doucoure possess the ability to hurt the Gunners on the counter attack.
Any link between attack and defence will be tenuous at best for Watford, and it is unlikely Odion Ighalo will feature amid links with a move to China. The striker has scored just twice this season, but his absence will put pressure on Troy Deeney. The club captain is a real talisman and it will be imperative that he both drops deep to help his teammates and holds the ball up to allow them to push forward.
Wenger, himself serving a touchline ban, will look towards the wide areas in a bid to break down any Watford resistance. Mazzarri’s aim will be to flood the middle of the pitch to attempt to shut out Sanchez and Ozil’s runs inside, meaning the wingbacks will be expected to provide an attacking outlet. Stretching the play, and calling on the likes of Theo Walcott, could be crucial. His pace would pin back those wingbacks and ensure complete dominance and control of this game.
It is hard to see Watford threatening as Arsenal look to close the seven-point gap to Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. They will try to frustrate early on, and it is important for the hosts to remain patient, but with Sanchez in such good form, netting 15 goals this term and the Gunners scoring three or more goals in three of their last five games, they should have few problems getting the win here.