Arsenal and Watford meet at the Emirates with the Gunners nine points clear of the Hornets. A win for the visitors opens up the tantalising possibility of the Hertfordshire club qualifying for next season’s Europa League.
It would also condemn Arsenal to their worst run in the Premier League – four consecutive defeats – since 1995 when Stewart Houston was in temporary charge of the club following George Graham’s dismissal.
Arsenal’s form going into the game is terrible. Four wins in the last ten in all competitions, accompanied by six defeats. The north London club has forgotten how to draw matches they are losing.
Even at home, the situation isn’t good; consecutive defeats to Ostersunds and Manchester City dented what was a proud home record (W6, D2) in the last ten. However, in the Premier League, it is only the Manchester clubs who have won at the Emirates this season (W10, D2).
Their dominance is clearer when you consider that they score more goals in the second half of the game than in the first. Yet they find themselves ahead at half-time in 57% of their home matches. While average goals predict a 1 – 0 lead at the interval, that has only happened on six occasions this season.
From the array of stats available, it’s easy to pinpoint dangerous times of the game for the visitors. Arsenal scored 17% of their goals in the last ten minutes while the Hornets conceded 28% of theirs. It will certainly be an open game during that phase; Watford coincidentally, scored 28% of their goals between the 81st and 90th minutes. Arsenal are vulnerable in the latter stages so it will be quite open if the season trends are followed.
While the numbers lean toward a 2 – 1 home win, there’s risk involved in declaring that close to certain. Watford carry an unpredictability risk of 66%, comfortably ensconced in medium – middle of the table. Arsenal, on the other hand, sit at 93%, the third most unpredictable in the top-flight behind Liverpool and Manchester City.
That pair are more likely to score more than predicted, but no-one can be absolutely sure which Arsenal will turn up. The one who crumbled at Brighton or the one which was victorious in Milan.
Both Arsenal and Watford average around three goals per game. 3.24 in Arsenal’s case, with 2.97 for the Hornets. There is a commonality in their numbers. Both average seeing 43% of their goals in the first half with 57% after the interval.
A cautionary note for Arsenal. While their home record is only bettered by four of the top five – Chelsea are the odd team out with three points fewer – Watford’s fourteen points is the seventh best in the Premier League.
In the head-to-head, it’s three wins each in the last six meetings. At the Emirates, Watford have won twice, both by 2 – 1 scoreline in both in 2016 and 2017 with the former in the FA Cup. Arsenal won their three, all to nil. The fans will be happy if that happens again.