Arsenal will aim to stretch their unbeaten run across all competitions to 10 matches when they welcome Watford to the Emirates for Sunday’s Premier League encounter.
The Gunners marched to a 2-0 win over Leicester City last time out, while Claudio Ranieri’s side went down 1-0 to Southampton.
Gabriel Magalhaes and Emile Smith Rowe’s well-taken goals may have settled the contest in Arsenal’s favour before the half-time whistle blew, but the man whose summer arrival sparked controversy within the Gunners fanbase once again came to his side’s rescue against Leicester.
After somehow keeping out James Maddison’s goal-bound free kick after the home crowd had already begun celebrating, Aaron Ramsdale thwarted Jonny Evans on the follow-up and made a total of eight saves on the day to preserve his side’s clean sheet and send a clear selection message to Gareth Southgate.
The 23-year-old has been given the seal of approval from the likes of David Seaman and Peter Schmeichel as he continues to justify his big-money move from Sheffield United, and a fifth win from seven Premier League games has seen Arsenal suddenly surge to sixth in the rankings.
Defeat for Manchester United in Saturday’s derby with Manchester City would give Arsenal a prime opportunity to break into the top five, and having taken 17 points from the last 21 on offer in the top flight, Mikel Arteta may have finally found a consistent formula for success.
The Gunners also welcome Watford to the Emirates having won three of their last four league games on home soil – scoring eight goals in their last three – and the Ranieri momentum with the Hornets took quite the blow last week.
To say that Ranieri’s fortunes in the Watford dugout have been mixed would be an understatement, with the Premier League title winner firstly witnessing his side concede five to Liverpool before scoring five against their Merseyside rivals Everton.
However, the Hornets well and truly lost their sting against Southampton in gameweek 10, as Che Adams’s 20th-minute strike was all that separated the two sides on the South Coast as Watford were sent crashing back down to earth in dismal fashion.
Three defeats from four games – during which time they have failed to score in any of those losses – is hardly an encouraging record, but the 16th-placed Hornets remain three points clear of the drop zone as things stand.
Furthermore, two of Watford’s three wins in the top flight this term have come away from home – where they have scored eight of their 12 league goals – although they are yet to face an inspired Arsenal defence with a goalkeeper in the form of his life.
Watford did claim a 2-1 win at the Emirates as recently as January 2017, but they have lost four of their last five top-flight encounters with their London rivals and have never kept a clean sheet against the Gunners in the Premier League.
Arsenal Premier League form:
Arsenal form (all competitions):
Watford Premier League form:
Watford form (all competitions):
We say: Arsenal 2-0 Watford
Any hopes of Watford producing yet another five-goal showing are extremely slim, with Arteta reaping the rewards of having his first-choice backline fit and firing on all cylinders.
The Gunners have certainly looked more threatening on the attacking front since this change in shape, and we can only back the hosts to get the job done comfortably.