The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Watford v Arsenal preview

We return to Premier League action on Saturday when we take on Watford at Vicarage Road. 

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke analyses our opponents’ strengths, dangermen and areas we can target.

THE MANAGER
 
MC: Marco Silva impressed in his half-season with Hull City, and deservedly got another Premier League job this summer. A keen, studious tactician, Watford’s best performances this season have come on the road, when they’ve been allowed to play slightly more defensively than at Vicarage Road.

AC: He’s tactically astute and he’s a smart manager. If things aren’t working, he’ll change it, he’ll rip it up at half-time. He hasn’t needed to do that too much this year, though. He’s also got the players fired up because they run a lot, lot more than they did under Walter Mazzarri. Under the Italian, they ran around 107km per game, under Silva it’s 111km. That’s a massive leap. Each individual within that side is working harder for Silva. 
 
FORMATION
 
MC: Silva has stuck to a standard 4-2-3-1 system so far this season. Watford attack with great width – both right-sided Andre Carillo and left-sided Richarlison side are outright wingers who look to stretch the play.

AC: Marco Silva has gone with a 4-2-3-1. Sometimes he plays 4-3-3 and he dabbled with three at the back for a half against Swansea, but in essence he’s a 4-2-3-1 man and they already look more comfortable. He’s also injected more pace into the team because the players he’s brought in are quicker and more exciting. They’re taking teams on with a bit more aggression. Last year they were too passive, too defensive, but that’s not the case now.
 
DANGERMAN
 
MC: The 20-year-old Brazilian left-winger Richarlison was signed from Fluminese in the summer and has made an instant impact, scoring three goals – two in stoppage time in the last two matches – and impressed with his speed and directness down the flank.

AC: Richarlison is a top signing. He cost a lot of money for a player that very few of us had heard of, but he looks a good prospect. He’s rangy, he’s quick, he’s added good balance to Watford down the left-hand side. He works hard as well and he’s aggressive, he’s up there in terms of winning tackles for Watford. He gets stuck in and he’s also deceptively strong in the air. When they swing crosses in from the right-hand side, just watch out for Richarlison coming in at the far stick because he’s very tall for a wide man and he’s good in the air too. 
 
STRENGTHS
 
MC: Watford’s midfield zone has functioned well this season. Etienne Capoue, Tom Cleverley and Abdelouaye Doucoure have a fine relationship, covering space intelligently and breaking forward in turn. Cleverley should start in the most advanced role, but the other two can find themselves in attacking positions. Capoue had a storming game in a 2-1 victory at the Emirates last season.
 
AREAS TO TARGET
 
MC: Watford haven’t looked particularly secure when defending set-pieces recently, conceding in those situations against Manchester City, West Brom and Swansea.