Arsenal v Watford

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Interview

'I'd like to personally score the 1,000th goal!'

Arsène Wenger

Henry v Liverpool, Giroud v Crystal Palace, Adams v Everton - all hugely memorable, iconic goals in Premier League history.

We have scored 999 times at home in the top flight, and when Arsene Wenger was asked about it, he had a surprising answer.
 
"I would like to, personally, score the 1,000th one but that would be impossible!" he said. "None particularly stand out, it is always the last win.
 
"But of course [the record] is a symbol of a long period for Arsenal in the Premier League that was quite successful, where we see the consistency we have achieved over the past 20 years is not easy to equal and hopefully in the next 20 years we will do better.
 
"There have been so many good goals but you are always tempted to remember the decisive goals when you were in bad situations. But of course you take the library through Thierry Henry, Bergkamp, Giroud - all the players we have had here you will find some great goals."

We could score our 1,000th goal at home to Watford on Sunday, and there will be a lot of focus on the game after Troy Deeney's comments about us earlier in the season.
 
"We come back to criticism – there’s only one way to respond to it," Wenger said. "But first I’d like to say that on the day, they got a cheap penalty and so we were not just a bit unlucky.
 
"Secondly, there’s always only one way to respond to these kinds of statements and that’s with the quality of our performance. Our motivation has to come from within the group and show how much we want it."

Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Watford: The Brief

Thursday's victory in Milan was as welcome as it was important.

We arrested a run of four consecutive defeats with an impressive win at San Siro, and in doing so put a place in the last eight of the Europa League firmly within reach.

But now we need to rediscover that winning feeling in the Premier League. Defeat at Brighton last weekend means that we can no longer match last season's points tally of 75, and we find ourselves 13 points adrift of fourth place, with nine matches remaining.

So although the Europa League remains our most realistic route back into the Champions League next season, Sunday's meeting with Watford – sandwiched as it is between the two legs of the AC Milan tie – has an importance of its own.

Arsène Wenger has said that you can lose confidence quickly but regain it slowly, so he is keen for his side to build momentum ahead of two successive weekends without a game, by cultivating the green chutes of recovery that emerged on Thursday.

Watford, however, have become something of a bogey team in recent times. They came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 at home back in October, and have won at Emirates Stadium in each of the past two seasons by that same scoreline. 

The boss said we faced 'special circumstances' in that Vicarage Road defeat, referring to the controversial penalty awarded against us, but wants the team to learn from that occasion and show that, no matter what happens on the pitch, we can respond to the situation we face and win the game.

The performance and result in Milan should add to the team's resolve, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's return (he was ineligible on Thursday) will also boost the squad - he's scored our only Premier League goal since February 3.

We preview the match with classic goals against the Hornets, team news, an exclusive chat with the manager, Adrian Clarke's verdict on the opposition, facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.


EXTRA MOTIVATION?

Following our 2-1 defeat to Watford earlier this season, the team's character came under fire, with some of the opposition players among the critics. So will the team use that criticism as an extra motivating factor on Sunday?

"I don't think 'use' is great word," the manager said. “But what we want to do on a longer term is make sure that the substance of your game is how you want it to be. You can not only to respond to exterior stimulation, because that can't happen every week.

“What we want to do is win football games, and win them in the way we want to play. And long-term that comes from within the group and from within our own motivation.

“Sometimes exterior stimulus can help, but the core of our motivation has to come from within the group, within what we want to achieve and from within how we want to play football."

Wenger on Ozil and Mkhitaryan

Team news

ARSENAL: Kolasinac (ankle, doubtful), Lacazette (knee), Bellerin (knee), Monreal (back) Cazorla (calf)

WATFORD: Holebas (ankle, doubtful), Femenia (illness, doubtful), Kabasele (hamstring, doubtful), Cleverley (hamstring, doubtful), Kaboul (toe, doubtful), Deulofeu (foot), Wague (hamstring), Chalobah (knee), Cathcart (knee), Hoban (knee)

The Opposition

Former Gunner Adrian Clarke assesses our opponents on Sunday: 

"I don’t think Javi Gracia done too much different to Marco Silva. What he has done is restore Troy Deeney as the focal point in the attack. That partnership between Doucoure and Cleverley has been broken up because it’s now Doucoure and Capoue.

He’s messing around with the formation less and they’re now playing more of a 4–2-3-1. I think there’s a lot to like about Watford, I really do. A number of their players are in really good form and at the back Mariappa has come in and excelled. He’s not a player who I’d expected to be first choice.

"Holebas is having a cracking campaign at left back and creating loads of chances. Richarlison has faded a bit in terms of his goal output but he’s still a cracking player. For me, they’ve got threats all over the pitch and are a better team than the one we’ve just lost to in Brighton. It’s a tricky game, this."


THE LAST WORD

The manager on coping with criticism, and how to respond…

"First of all what hurts is not getting the results you want to have. That is the biggest pain you face. You are disappointed with yourself because you set an expectation level for results, and you cannot produce it. That is the biggest pain.

"After that, criticism is part of the fact that we don't win the games. Then there is just one way to respond, which is what we did against Milan. It's to be together, to show our pride and character and the desire to play for the club." 

Matchday Show: Watford (h)

Matchday Show: Watford (h)

Gallery

Pictures: First team train ahead of Watford match

Arsenal train ahead of Watford (h)

After returning to winning ways in Milan, our first-team squad were back in training at London Colney on Saturday morning.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey were among those preparing for Sunday's Premier League clash with Watford, and our club photographer sent us back these pictures:

Interview

‘Unity is strength and division is weakness’

Thursday’s win over AC Milan was an improvement on recent results, but Danny Welbeck knows there is still work to be done before we get back to our best.

Our Europa League victory at San Siro ended a run of four consecutive defeats and, ahead of Sunday’s game against Watford, the 27-year-old says we need to continue to respond in a united way to return to winning ways in the Premier League.
 
“We know we play for Arsenal Football Club,” Welbeck said. “The fans are hurting, everyone involved around the club is hurting and we feel their disappointment. That’s something we want to put right. It’s been a difficult period but it’s the sort of thing where we want to make things right with a positive result in the next match.
 
“We’re professional footballers and we know what we’ve done to get to this stage. We know how we can get better, how we can improve on the negative results we’ve had recently.
 
“We want to improve but you do go home, look at yourself and say, ‘How can I put things right?’ I think the minimum requirement is to stand and fight in every single area of the pitch. We know that our quality will shine through in the end.
 
“It’s not just football, there’s good times and you get praised for them, and there’s bad times where you get negative criticism but you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to look at yourself and see how you can improve on these situations.
 
“I think you’ve got to be united in these situations. Unity is strength and division is weakness in this sort of period. If we stay together, stand up and fight, that’s what we need to do at the moment. As I said, we are really good players so the quality will shine through if we do what’s required of us.”

Interview

'When we lose, I’m in disastrous shape'

Arsene Wenger during our defeat to Brighton

Arsene Wenger has revealed the very personal cost to him when his side go through a difficult patch - admitting that he is often in "disastrous shape".

The Arsenal manager discussed how hard he finds it, how it causes him to lose sleep and how he works through it. This is what he said:
 
on how it has been for him personally…
Difficult because I want to do well for the club. I want to do well for the fans and want them to go home happy and when I can’t give them that satisfaction I’m unhappy of course. First of all, I dedicated my whole life to winning football matches so when I lose I’m in disastrous shape.
 
on it causing a lack of sleep…
Every manager will tell you that. When you don't get the results, the first thing affected is the mood and the lack of sleep and the desire to find solutions. Overall it’s part of the job. When you’re a young manager, you dream of taking a job and winning every game but it’s not that. It is about surviving through disappointments, finding solutions and that’s interesting as well because it can make you a better manager to face a crisis.
        
on the human perspective…
Honestly I can take a distance with that because it’s not the person they hate, they hate the manager who doesn’t deliver performance. I can make the difference but I’m just unhappy that we lose games. I want to win. My whole life is guided towards that. I want to win with style, so it’s very ambitious and when we don’t do it I suffer like everyone else. But what is taken into account is Arsenal today is 30 million people – it’s not the suffering of one person. You want to make 30 million people happy and that’s what you care about.
 
on who helps pick him up from disappointments…
I have people around me – people should not think that Arsenal Football Club is just me – I have a huge staff around me.  The difference between when I arrived and today is that I now have a staff around me of maybe 20 people who I talk with, I ask their opinion and after I make the decision of course.  But I’m surrounded by very talented people who dedicate their life to Arsenal Football Club. But, at the end of the day, I have to stand up for what is important for the club and that mean the results and the way we play football.
 
on neutrals wanting him to succeed…
I’m very thankful for that – that I have some respect in the game!  I think that despite all that, football, the modern game has gone to money. But football for me is first about values so if I can leave behind me that fact that it's as well that. Maybe, somewhere, people who respect a little bit that Arsenal is about winning or losing of course, it’s vital – but it’s also about what’s important in the game, what is important in football. My regret personally is that, today, that has completely gone underwater. We don’t speak about that at all now. It’s all about only the side of the game that’s important but is not essential.

Team news

Team news: Kolasinac, Chambers, Bellerin, Nacho

Sead Kolasinac

Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Sunday's game against Watford at Emirates Stadium.

The Arsenal manager provided updates on Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Nacho Monrea, Hector Bellerin and Alexandre Lacazette and this is what he said:

on the team news...
Sead Kolasinac has an ankle problem, but we don't rule him out for Sunday yet. Calum Chambers had cramps, because he played in a position which he is not used to for a centre back. He should be OK though.

on Nacho Monreal...
Nacho Monreal is on a good way, he could be available again for next Thursday.

on Hector Bellerin...
Hector Bellerin we don't know yet, we have to see. He is not available for the weekend though.

on Alexandre Lacazette...
Alexandre Lacazette has his first run today, but won't be back until after the international break.

News

Follow the Watford game LIVE on Arsenal.com

Matchday Show: Watford (h)

We return to Premier League action when Watford visit the Emirates on Sunday lunchtime - and if you're not at the Emirates, don't panic because you can follow the game with us.

Tune in to the website from 1pm (UK time) for the following from our Europa League last-16 first-leg tie: 

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up and audio commentary from 1.30pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip, extended highlights and a full match replay will be available from midnight on Sunday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!

Goals

Check out our best goals at home to Watford

We’re back in Premier League action when we host Watford at Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

From Alex Iwobi’s first league strike at the Emirates to Theo Walcott capping off a brilliant team move, we’ve scored some classic goals against the Hornets in recent years - but which of these was our best finish?

Click ‘Play’ on the video above and then don’t forget to vote in our poll below: