Another round of matches in the Premier League concludes on Monday night when FA Cup finalists Watford host Arsenal in a London derby at Vicarage Road, with both sides after the points for their own aims.
Watford have control of seventh spot with everyone else in contention for that place having lost already this weekend while Arsenal need to win to keep pace with the top four. As with Chelsea last week, it is a shambles that the Gunners are playing the Monday game but they have to put that to one side and get on with business.
The Hornets should be buzzing heading into this match, if you pardon the pun. They are going well in the Premier League and they are through to the final of the FA Cup where they will face Manchester City next month. They need to make sure they park the FA Cup now though, although it would only be human nature for their intensity to drop at some point between now and then.
Watford have generally been pretty consistent this season and Javi Gracia has constantly rotated in attacking areas to keep everyone fresh for this run in in light of the large amount of matches they will end up playing. Watford have won their last three at Vicarage Road and will fancy their chances of moving into seventh with a win here.
It has been a good season for Arsenal given where they were when it began but they are beginning to pay the price for their poor away form this term. They have only won one of their last nine road matches in the Premier League and although they have been close to flawless at home, they have slipped to sixth and are beginning to cling on to the top four rather than be right in the mix.
Arsenal always have the Europa League to fall back on in terms of making it through to the Champions League next season but they could do with the safety net of being in and around the top four in case that all goes wrong. This therefore is a big match, ,not just for their league position, but also for their own peace of mind when they leave the Emirates in the future.
Watford boss Javi Gracia has confirmed that Jose Holebas will miss this match but Kiko Femenia and Gerard Deulofeu are both fit despite having left the cup semi-final with knocks during the extra time period. Tom Cleverley remains out.
Arsenal will be without defender Sokratis who is suspended having picked up 10 bookings for the season. Granit Xhaka will be assessed but is likely to wait until Thursday before returning to action for the Gunners.
This never really looked like a match that I was going to be interested in betting on and that remains the case. We have no idea how Arsenal will approach this match with a huge Europa League second leg against Napoli on Thursday night. You would think key men would be rested but I thought that with Wolves a few weeks ago and paid the price when they weren’t.
The same kind of goes with Watford. Not so much in terms of them resting players but last week would have been an incredible high and the comedown from that would only be inevitable and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if they are a little flat here. You’d probably fancy Watford based on Arsenal’s away record but four of their last five away games have been at Everton, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham. I’ll leave this.