Watford Preview: Bees, Now Hornets. Is This The Sting?

Watford arrive at the Emirates with Unai Emery content that the rain has held off. There’s even a tad of sunshine, albeit with a chill in the air. So long as he doesn’t see Troy Deeney’s cojones, he’ll be a happy man.

Six wins on the bounce and confidence should be high with performances improving. In patches; we’ve yet to see a 90-minute match. Vorskla was the closest, but the two late goals spoiled it.

We didn’t turn up for the first half last week and typically, we arrived from minute 45 onwards. The club employs psychologists so their job is simple: convince the players that each match is made up of three halves. They are footballers, they’ll never twig.

Either that or kidnap them, pretend they are in Albania and brainwash them. Whatever it takes to make it work. Unai thinks we’re walking that path:

I think and I work with my mentality to look forward to being better in each moment and after each match. Now, the table is also, I think, giving us the moment they are doing at the moment, each team.

Our performance also, after the first two against Manchester City and against Chelsea, is getting better. But we need also, our challenge is, tomorrow we are on a good way but also when they are coming to a lot of matches and difficult matches, to be more prepared for the possibility to win against the first teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, but also for very difficult games like tomorrow, against Watford.

I think the Premier League is the most important competition for us because it is giving us the best performance in 38 matches and I think the regularity is giving us our best performance.

Unai Emery on how we’re improving

Improving or Numbing?

There’s a sense that it’s all coming together; far from the complete article but we are better off than last season.

Emery thinks it is down to confidence which is returning:

Each match gives us the opportunity to take more confidence. We are winning, I think the confidence is the best on our individual players and also on our collective work. But every match is one challenge to show and to give, to find our best moment and best performance.

on if he feels confidence is building in the squad…

Defensively, we’re getting better. Or are we becoming immune to the mistakes? Maybe. Is immune is the wrong word? Numb. That’s a good word. Numb and Number.

According to Sokratis, the “defensive unit is getting better and better every month”, but so is “the whole team”. He also likes Lucas Torreira. A lot.

He works very good, he is small but he is strong enough. I like him very much because he gives everything, he tries to defend every time and when we have players who do this work in front of us, it is very important.

Sokratis on Torreira

Emery brought the Uruguayan into the side and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Torreira lived up to expectations. Money well spent, you can see that after just one Premier League start. OK, a couple of substitute appearances served as appetisers but it’s amazing the impact one player can have on a side. Why didn’t anyone think of playing with a defensive midfielder before?

At this point, you’re wondering if I’m going to talk about Aaron Ramsey’s situation. It hasn’t changed from yesterday with Emery not shedding any light on it either. So there it is.

Demanding More

There was one phrase Emery used yesterday which I liked:

I think each player is thinking well, but also we need more.

Pin it on the wall, Unai

More. Demanding more. Not in a greedy way but demanding excellence from every player, every match. Satisfied with winning but not satisfied enough and always wanting more. Chasing the excellence even though he knows it’s unattainable by this current squad.

We can take a step further along the path with three points today. I’d expect the line-up to be similar to that which beat Everton:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil,
Aubameyang; Lacazette

No Ramsey which probably won’t happen. I can’t see Emery not playing the Welshman even though the side has a better balance with a more natural wide player.

Whatever the XI, I’m feeling confident of winning. Just the small matter of 90 minutes to prove that confidence isn’t misplaced.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

73 thoughts on “Watford Preview: Bees, Now Hornets. Is This The Sting?

  1. I think you may be on to something with the “three halves” therapy, YW. Definitely worth trying at this point.
    Not sure the Albania part would work on Xhaka, however!

  2. Hahaha Sanchez the highest paid player in the PL gets axed from the Manure squad and they are getting outclassed by West Ham.

  3. C,

    From outclassed to crushed 3-1…a club in crisis. Now for us to put some distance between us and them with a win.

  4. It will be a close race between Sanchez and Ozil to see which one will end up having the worst contract in history in terms of goals and assists per dollar in wages.

  5. Bill,

    Its not even close, its Sanchez by a country mile. He has only scored 1 goal since he lefr Arsenal and is the highest paid player in the PL at £505k/wk. When he has played, he has offered literally NOTHING and is being axed from the squad.

    I know you hate Ozil but come on mate, thats not even close to being a comparison.

  6. C

    No doubt that both ManU and Arsenal would both like to have a mulligan on the ozil and Sanchez contracts. The difference is their mistake probably won’t impact the long term financial strategy as much as ours.

  7. C,

    Great contest. Watford’s pressing is really thorough but I’m liking our spunky response. Ozil one of the hard workers, and I like Holding

  8. Bloody hell Townsend is an arsehole of note.

    Ozil created a chance up front and Townsend claims its the first time Ozil has been on the ball.

    Ozil has been playing deep and has been heavily involved!

    How dishonest do you have to be to punt an agenda?

  9. Bill,

    Your mad if you think that. Half a million and the player os supposed to be a goal scorer and has only 1 and is now out of the match day squad not through injury. Your disdain clouds your judgement

  10. 6 on the bounce, 2nd PL clean sheet, Ozil gets his 2nd in 2 matches, the puzzle is starting to really come together.

    I wonder how different people would look at Arsenal if Aubameyang, Mhkitaryan and Iwobi had finished their chances(that were on a platter btw) against Chelsea and we win that match?

  11. What a difference some genuine width to the team makes. Well played Iwobi. Probably his best run of form in a couple of seasons.

  12. I see it was Tony Gale, not Andy Townsend, making a complete and utter cunt of himself on our commentary.

    I want to hear one fuckwad claim Ozil was lazy this match.

  13. YW,

    Yup, it will be interesting to see what Emery does because it was clear that with Aubameyang and Iwobi given us genuine width, it allowed our midfield more room and also Lacazette more space to operate.

  14. C

    That’s the answer for him and I think why Ramsey is being let go. We’ve got too many central players and need to use those who are able to unlock defences from wide. Be interesting to see if he uses Iwobi more on the right now than left.

  15. That was our best win so far. Strongest team we have beat and a good performance overall. Some momentum. Next three league matches are pretty tough but winnable. Hope we can build on this better performance.

    We did concede lots of good chances and Mustafi’s silly fouls are a real test for the defense. Holding was good apart from getting burned for pace a couple of times. He’s a decent passer as well so I would be happy to see him and Sokratis partnering in the future.

  16. YW,

    Exactly and I think with Mhkitaryan showing form plus the faxt that Smith-Rowe, Guendouzi amd Torriera have all shown more than capable Ramsey will be gone. Iwobi on the right or left and Aubameyang could prove to be deadly especially since it would free him to make runs as he would then have Ozil, Lacazette and Iwobi doing the build up similiar to when he had Lewandowski, Reus and Mhkitaryan at Dortmund.

    As you rightly point out, the puzzle is starting to really take shape.

    Question: how much different do you think our season would look had we taken are chances against Chelsea? People tend to forget that Mhkitaryan, Aubameyang and Iwobi all had, for their quality, sitters that they missed.

  17. YW,

    Gale was an utter joke. Torreira was hit by Deeney on follow through of his clearance. Gale was very harsh on Ozil, I thought as well, quite apart from the goal. Emery was right to sub Ramsey instead of Ozil I thought at the time, but Auba on the right made no sense at all to me. Things clicked when Wellbs came on with Iwobi switched on the right. But that was as much about Auba being even less effective on the right.

  18. LSG,

    Mustafi is a player I defend but he is frustrating: he will have moments of good to really good play defensively in winning headers, intercepting passes and tackling and then he will have a moment that is soooo frustring like the silly fouls trying to win a header.

    Reminds me a bit of how Kos was in his first couple of seasons at Arsenal. Hopefully between Emery, his staff and the steady hand of Sokaritis, he will figure it all out.

  19. C,

    That was very good for Leno to contribute some saves, play tidily with his feet. He really is much less convincing right now than Cech in the air and dominating his box. But he’ll get a run and Fulham are more technical than aerially powerful I believe, so a chance to build some confidence hopefully.

  20. C,

    I think Holding has more potential and a better balance in pairing with Sokratis, but Mustafi is the experienced player so we have to hope he becomes more consistent and improves.

  21. LSG,

    I think the aerial stuff will come because its much more of a PL thing than in any other league BY FAR, but as far as with his feet, quickness off his line in that sweeper keeper and shot stopping, I think people will find out just how good he really is and why he has been ome of the top GKs in the Bundesliga since he started age 19.

  22. LSG,

    I think Holding is a good young CB but he and Sokaritis woudl worry me with pace and quickness. Mustafi I think is in an intereating situation because he does do good followed by one or two bad.

  23. I think we were just as lucky not to concede as we were good in defending….

    I never seen us win so many headers in our box as I’ve seen today and Watford resorted to the long ball and crossing.

    We all know this is a work in progress and we have many faults…..But the most important thing is we are winning the points.

    At this time of our transition, it’s all what matters.

  24. Fantastic result. Gotta keep it going though. Quaarbag and Fulham are winnable by the stabdards we’ve set ourselves

  25. LSG,

    Agree. In this day and age CBs need to be as quick as most midfielders now. Why I’m excited for Mavropanos getting a game when he’s fit. Strong and fast. But can’t say Holding doesn’t deserve a start, that’s two solid performances and two clean sheets from he AND Mustafi.

    Difference again was Ozil going Central and Iwobi coming on.

    I thought we were solid throughout. They created two clear cut chances one of which was saved the other a bad miss. Pegged ha in our own half for about 15mins but despite that we still did well considering. Starting to see the difference in pressing for definite. Laca Auba and Welbeck should start vs Fulham imo.

    Draw probably best result for us Cheslea vs Liverpool wise. And if you’d said to me 15 points from 21, 5 above UTD and and only 4 from top I’d have bitten your hand off.

    Really want spurs to drop some points. Cardiff away for them next week…. They’ll win that. Fulham is winnable but Leicester after could be tricky they’re picking up momentum

  26. MesutsLeftFoot,

    And Palace away after Leicester is a tough one too, so end of the run of fixtures before Pool is a little more challenging than the start. But we are playing better and two wins against two pretty solid teams (Everton and Watford) should build confidence.

  27. We don’t know what’s behind Ramsey’s refusal to extend his contract.
    The fact remains however, that failure to sign will mean selling the guy in the January Window OR a free transfer next Summer. On the basis that no player is bigger than the Club which employs him, one would hope that the former solution would be preferred.
    Arsenal have no “sugar daddy” to bankroll its business and there must be a number of Clubs in mainland Europe who would be prepared to meet Ramsey’s wage bill and more besides.
    Let’s have a meeting of minds before too long. 😉

  28. nicky,

    If he goes, it will be a shame, especially since we probably won’t get much for him. But he isn’t the sort of player who we can’t replace successfully. We can’t break the bank for a player who regularly misses significant parts of the season to muscle injuries as well.

  29. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Completely agree with all of that!

    The funny part about ALL of it is that if, I stated to Yogi, Mhkitaryan, Iwobi and Aubameyang all missed sitters(for players of their quality) in the Chelsea match.

    Ozil centrally with Torriera and Xhaka is working and you saw the difference. In the firat half, Ozil was dropping deeper but when moved centrally, he was dictating and he and Torriera seem to always find each other which is exactly what we need.

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