Arsenal vs Watford preview: Team news, prediction, how to watch Watford are playing for their Premier League future as they head to Arsenal on the final day of the season this afternoon.
The Hornets had looked odds-on the beat the drop a week or so ago, but the sacking of manager Nigel Pearson was followed up by a disastrous 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City.
That setback in goal difference, plus Aston Villa’s recent victory over Arsenal, means Watford are now in the relegation zone with one game left to play.
With Watford having scored fewer goals than Villa and sitting a goal behind, temporary manager Hayden Mullins may need a big win at the Emirates to ensure survival – or should results go their way, even a defeat would technically be enough.
As for Arsenal, Mikel Arteta will want a strong finish to a difficult season – and with FA Cup Final starting spots up for grabs, a few of his squad players need to state their case.
Date, time and venue
Arsenal vs Watford is scheduled for a 4pm BST kick-off today.
The match will be played behind closed doors at Emirates Stadium with no fans due to be present due to government guidelines regarding coronavirus.
How to watch
TV channel: The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League, and is available via Now TV with a day pass for £9.99, or a three-month pass on offer for £25.
Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via SkyGo and the SkyGo app, with a mobile month pass available for £5.99. Preview: Arsenal vs. Watford – prediction, team news, lineups
By Daniel Lewis, Senior Reporter | 1d
Watford head into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal knowing that they will likely need at least a point to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
The managerless Hornets are in the bottom three heading into the final round of fixtures, behind 17th-placed Aston Villa on goal difference, while Arsenal are 10th and have one eye on next weekend’s FA Cup final.
Watford manager Hayden Mullins pictured on July 21, 2020© Reuters
Watford’s destiny is no longer in their own hands following a dramatic round of midweek action that saw Villa stun Arsenal 1-0, shortly after Watford had crashed 4-0 to Manchester City.
Losing heavily to City is something that the Hornets have become accustomed to in recent times, and this latest thrashing – two days after Nigel Pearson was surprisingly dismissed – has left them requiring snookers if they are to dodge the drop.
Villa travel to West Ham United on the final day – the Hammers having secured their place in the top flight for another year on Wednesday – with a victory of any sort surely being enough to keep them up thanks to their slightly superior goal difference.
Watford have to better the Villans’ result against West Ham, with goal difference possibly coming into the mix, and the Hornets are currently one goal worse off than Villa in that regard.
It is not out of the question that a third deciding factor will have to be used to separate the sides, which is goals scored – a deficit Watford, six goals worse off than Villa, are unlikely to make up.
The target for interim boss Hayden Mullins will be coming away from the Emirates Stadium with all three points, though Watford have not won on the final day of the season since 2011-12 when in the Championship.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action for Arsenal on July 21, 2020© Reuters
This fixture is perhaps not as daunting on the face of it as it may seem, however, even if Watford have only won two of their last nine games since an incredible 3-0 win over Liverpool on February 29.
That is largely down to the fact that Arsenal have little to play for on the final weekend, with eighth place now the best they can hope for after the 1-0 loss to Villa in midweek.
Not since 1983 have they lost back-to-back matches against teams in the relegation zone, though, and Mikel Arteta will no doubt want to finish a disappointing Premier League campaign on a relative high.
The following weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea provides Arsenal with an opportunity to salvage something from a disappointing 2019-20 campaign, and they will not want to go into that game on the back of successive league losses.
While Watford have struggled on the final day of the season down the years, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last 14 such matches, winning the last eight in a row.
Indeed, not since 1992-93, when going down 3-1 to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, have they lost their final game of the season on home soil.
Arsenal’s Premier League form: WWDLWL
Arsenal’s form (all competitions) WDLWWL
Watford’s Premier League form: LLWWLL
Mesut Ozil pictured on June 25, 2020© Reuters
Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil have been completely shut out by Arteta in recent weeks and that is likely to continue this weekend.
The Gunners also have plenty of players ruled out through injury, with Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli and Shkodran Mustafi all out, while Reiss Nelson is a fitness doubt.
Given there is a six-day break between this game and the FA Cup final, it makes sense for Arteta to named his strongest possible lineup on Sunday, likely meaning a return to a 3-4-3 system.
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored four goals in his four Premier League games against Watford, though three of those strikes have come at Vicarage Road.
As for Watford, they remain without Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat, Isaac Success and Etienne Capoue.
Mullins has no fresh injury or suspension concerns on the back of the loss to Man City, but he may well elect to make changes in certain areas.
Nathaniel Chalobah and Danny Welbeck were brought off the bench against City and are in strong contention for recalls here.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina; Doucoure, Chalobah, Hughes; Sarr, Deeney, Welbeck