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Watford v Arsenal

Scouting Report - Watford

Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Arsène Wenger's side travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.

Michael Cox

Newly-promoted Watford boast the most cosmopolitan squad in the Premier League, and for their opening Premier League match this season, manager Quique Sanchez Flores’ starting XI featured 11 different nationalities.

Nevertheless, the Spanish coach has created a harmonious, well-organised side. Tellingly, Watford have scored the joint-fewest goals in the division (6), but also conceded the joint-fewest (7).

They defend in a good, deep, compact shape in two banks of four, then break quickly through the wingers and hit longer balls towards the forwards.They also attempt a higher proportion of their shots from outside the box than any other Premier League team.

 

Quique Sánchez Flores

Quique S

 

 

Heurelho Gomes has started every match in goal, and is capable of great saves having ironed out the errors that marred his spell with Spurs. He often comes for crosses, taking the pressure off his centre-backs, Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prödl.

They’re both good in the air but average in possession, so Gomes usually kicks long rather than playing out from the back. Right-back Allan Nyom is a solid defender and attacks powerfully too, although has been struggling with a knee injury this week.

Juan Carlos Paredes, a very attack-minded player, could be his replacement. On the opposite side, Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake started at Bournemouth last time out. A steady, composed player whose future is probably in a central position, Ake at left-back allows Ikechi Anya to push forward to become a winger.

Watford’s midfield is based around Etienne Capoue, who sits deep in a right-of-centre position, breaks up play and boasts a good passing range too. Valon Behrami provides the energy alongside, although his recent suspension allowed Ben Watson to come into the side, playing a similar role.

 

Capoue

Capoue

 

 

Much of Watford’s passing flows down the flanks. Anya is an energetic, mazy dribbler whereas Almen Abdi prefers to drift inside and play passing combinations with other players, and can shoot from range.

Upfront, Troy Deeney wears number nine but plays the link role neatly, and has assisted three goals this season - all for Odion Ighalo, who plays on the shoulder of the last defender and runs in behind. Watford play good football, but are at their best when attacking directly, so concentration will be vital for Arsenal’s centre-backs.

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