Arsenal will look to put a stop to their domestic losing streak when they return to the Premier League campaign action and play host to Watford on Sunday.
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The Gunners ended their four-match losing streak with a 2-0 win away at AC Milan in the opening leg of their UEFA Europa League clash on Thursday, but the goal now will be to convert that triumph into form back home.
Hornets manager Javi Gracia is yet to be beaten at home since taking over at the club’s helm in January, but they’ve also taken just one point from their last possible 24 on the road.
Arsenal are in need of a Premier League rejuvenation after losing their last three fixtures in the competition, including defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion, leaders Manchester City and rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsene Wenger’s men sit sixth in the standings coming into Week 30 and are 13 points off the Premier League’s top four, while ninth-placed Watford can significantly boost their prospects with a third successive win.
Read on for a preview of Sunday’s north London showdown, complete with all the latest team news and essential live-stream information.
Watch Arsenal vs Watford Live Stream
Date: Sunday, March 11
Time: 1:30 p.m. GMT/9:30 a.m. ET
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London
Live Stream: Sky Go app (UK), NBC Live Extra (U.S.), fuboTV (U.S.)
TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), NBCSN (U.S.)
Santi Cazorla remains out of action for Arsenal due to the Achilles injury that’s kept him sidelined since October 2016, while full-backs Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin have question marks over their participation.
Wenger spoke to the media ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa League win over Milan and confirmed Bellerin, Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette would miss the continental clash, per the club’s official website.
Bellerin joins Lacazette on the sidelines with a knee injury while Monreal suffered a back injury in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City last month.
Wenger provided an update on Bellerin’s condition, with the Spaniard in contention to make his comeback against Watford, per injury analyst Ben Dinnery:
The Hornets have a more extensive injury list and have coped for much of this campaign with a significantly weakened squad, with the likes of Craig Cathcart and Tommy Hoban absent since the beginning of the season.
Among their fresher concerns is loan signing Gerard Deulofeu, who confirmed after the February win over Everton that he was set for a spell out of action with a foot injury:
Gracia has several other high-profile absences in midfield and defence who aren’t likely to feature at the Emirates, per PhysioRoom.com:
While Arsenal have some woes in the full-back areas, Watford could bring defenders Jose Holebas and Kiko Femenia back into the fold against Arsenal.
Greece international Holebas suffered an ankle injury in Watford’s last outing, a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, which Femenia missed due to illness. Dutchman Daryl Janmaat will continue to cover at right-back in the event Femenia still isn’t fit to return.
The Arsenal playing staff face a test of wills for the remainder of this Premier League season, with any chance at the title gone and the growing gap between them and the top four forcing a sense of peril in north London.
To compound supporter woes, The Times‘ Matt Hughes has since reported of a dressing room divided over player wages, coinciding with a woeful start to this year as far as form is concerned, per OptaJoe:
Early goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney saw Watford win in their most recent trip to the Emirates in January 2017, the Hornets’ first league win away at Arsenal since 1988.
That win was part of a four-match winning streak Watford once held over the Gunners, and Gracia will be hoping his team can emulate that run, which began with a 3-1 FA Cup triumph for the side in March 1987:
Watford have clinched 1-0 wins in their last two matches—over Everton and West Brom—but both took place at Vicarage Road, and their lack of results away from home will give Arsenal confidence in abundance.
But the Gunners know better than to let arrogance seep into their preparations ahead of Sunday’s clash, one of nine remaining in their Premier League calendar, all of which must be treated as must-win encounters.