By Chris Harris
It has been a remarkable journey for Watford and their impressive young manager, Adie Boothroyd. Eyebrows were raised when the Hornets appointed the then 35-year-old a little over 18 months ago but he has delivered the goods.
After achieving his first aim - Championship survival - Boothroyd guided Watford to promotion via the play-offs in May. Points have been hard to come by in the Premiership but they have put the frighteners up all of their opponents. We asked Anthony Matthews, Sports Editor of the Watford Observer, for an insight into Arsenal's next opponents.
THE STORY SO FAR
"They have been unfortunate to a degree in that no one has battered them but they are not so unfortunate in the sense that it took them until the Fulham game [on October 2] to capitalise on their chances. You can safely say without bias that their points total should be in double figures and it would have been if they'd taken their chances. That wasn't a problem last year, Watford were the second highest scorers in the Championship. I think it is a step up in class for them and you get punished if you miss chances and commit errors. Also, Watford lack a natural predator in front of goal. Marlon King, for all his talents, is not a six-yard box man. So far the most impressive performance I've seen is the 1-1 draw against West Ham. watford took the game to them and really should have won. The first 70 minutes against Fulham were good too, before they imploded."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"Adie Boothroyd's strengths include his magnificent attention to detail. He leaves no stone unturned and after every game he has a debriefing session with the players. He's a great learner too, he freely admits he talks to people and uses their ideas. It was a shock to everyone when the board appointed him but they had clearly done their homework. I think Watford's Chief Executive knew him from their time together at West Brom - when Boothroyd was running the academy - and you have to give the board credit because their decision has been vindicated. Boothroyd kept Watford in the Championship when he first arrived, then after a shaky start to last season they never looked back and won promotion."
"Damien Francis has looked quite solid in the centre of the park. He's a good, tough tackler and gets into the box. Boothroyd hasn't really brought many players in though, he has kept faith with most of the players who got Watford promoted."
THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO...
"I'm a big fan of Ashley Young. He made his full England Under-21 debut in midweek and is very versatile. He can play on the left or the right but I think he's most effective down the middle alongside Marlon King. He is a box of tricks and can get more involved in central positions. He has delivered the most crosses in the Premiership this season and that says something about the way Watford play. They are direct, shift the ball wide and get balls into the box. They play to their strengths."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
"The best-case scenario is that they start winning and quick. If they do that they can build some momentum and perhaps finish lower-mid table. The good thing about the 3-3 draw with Fulham was that they got their cutting edge back. If they can eliminate errors they can climb the table. I'm not sure whether there are three teams worse than Watford but there are certainly one or two. The key games will be against the sides in and around the relegation zone, like next week's trip to Charlton. Watford are certainly capable of putting a run together."
"I think they will give it a go against Arsenal because they don't know any differently. Watford are not a defensive team and if they try to sit back - as they did against Fulham - they will have problems. I imagine Boothroyd will start with a 4-4-2 and he may go with five in the middle if Watford can get in front. The big unknown is what he does to keep Thierry Henry quiet. I think he will try to kill the supply line. Watford will be in Arsenal's faces, they will take the game to them and try to interrupt their rhythm."