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Arsenal will look to stay as close to the top four as possible when they travel to Vicarage Road to face high-flying Watford in the Premier League on Monday night.
The Gunners are currently sixth in the PL table with 63 points from 32 games. They trail Manchester United in the fifth by a solitary point while Chelsea and Tottenham are further ahead of them. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are in third with 67 points from 33 games.
Thus, Unai Emery will look to win every game in the quest for Champions League football. After all, the presence or absence in Europe’s premier competition has a significant impact on club revenues and potential transfer targets.
However, league position is the only route for Arsenal to play in the UEFA Champions League next season. The London side are in the quarters of the Europa League, where the tournament winners secure a direct entry into the UCL next season.
Currently, the Gunners hold a solid 2-0 lead against their opponents Napoli in the quarterfinals and will look to get the job done in Italy the coming Thursday. They are one of the favorites left in the competition along with fellow London side and top four hopefuls Chelsea.
On the other hand, Watford are reaching the end of a reasonably successful season. The Hornets are currently 10th in the table with 46 points from 32 games. However, a win on Monday night will propel them to 7th, leapfrogging Everton, Wolves and Leicester City.
Javi Gracia’s men have played a game less than Wolves and a couple of games fewer than both Everton and Leicester, giving them an added advantage.
Furthermore, the Hornets are on a high after completing a spectacular comeback against Wolves from 2-0 down in the FA Cup semifinals last weekend to emerge 3-2 winners. They are set to face Manchester City in the final in May.
Thus, Watford have a decent chance of qualifying for the Europa League next season through two routes. If they win the FA Cup, then they gain entry into the Europa League qualifying rounds.
On the other hand, if City wins the FA Cup, their Europa League spot will be given to the team finishing 7th in the PL as Pep Guardiola’s men have already qualified for the UCL. Thus, Watford have all the incentive to complete the league strongly.
Last Five Games
Watford will be high on confidence after that dramatic FA Cup win. However, they have won only 2 of their last five league games. On the other hand, Arsenal have 3 of their last five league games and a 2-0 win against Napoli in the Europa League last Thursday.
Injuries and Suspensions
Gracia confirmed that Gerard Deulofeu and Kiko Femenia are fit again after training this week. However, Jose Holebas is set to miss out due to a hamstring injury he picked up last weekend while Domingos Quina hurt his shoulder in training. Finally, Tom Cleverley is another absentee with a calf problem.
Unai Emery will be without Sokratis Papastathopoulos who is serving a two-game suspension for accumulating ten yellow cards. Granit Xhaka faces a late fitness test while Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, and Hector Bellerin are long-term absentees.
Watford vs Arsenal Prediction
The Hornets have lost 4 of their last 5 PL home games to the Gunners and the reverse fixture this season saw a comfortable 2-0 win for Emery’s side. Either way, the match is very likely to end up with one of the two teams winning as there are no draws in the last 11 PL meetings between the duo.
In those games, Arsenal have won nine to Watford’s two. Further, Emery’s men are yet to keep a clean sheet on their travels this season, a run of 15 games and counting. Thus, the Hornets will look to continue the race going.
Finally, there is a distinct difference between Arsenal’s home and away performances, and this makes the upcoming matchup a tricky one. However, goals can be expected from both the sides with the more efficient team on the day taking three points.
Both teams to score- Yes and Total Goals- Over 2.5 @ 1.80 at Bet365
Watford Predicted XI: Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Lacazette
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