Scouting Report: Arsenal v Watford

We are back in Premier League action on Tuesday against Watford, and ahead of the game tactical expert Michael Cox analyses our opponents.


Walter Mazzarri was appointed last summer, having made his name with a hugely-impressive stint at Napoli, before a less successful period at Inter. A studious coach and a keen tactician, he made a promising start and recorded a noteworthy victory over Manchester United, but Watford’s recent form has been poor.


Mazzarri has generally deployed a three-man defence this season. That system has been repopularised in the Premier League recently, partly thanks to Antonio Conte’s success with Chelsea. But Conte’s switch to a back three with Juventus was partly because of Mazzarri’s achievements with a 3-4-3 system with Napoli – he was using that formation when few others across Europe were. It’s no great surprise, then, to see Watford setting out in that 3-4-1-2 system in recent weeks.


Watford’s three-man midfield is comprised of excellent all-round footballers. Etienne Capoue started the season in tremendous goalscoring form but is more of a solid, reliable player who spreads play nicely and provides tackling qualities, too.

Valon Behrami could partner him, but it’s more likely Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Cleverley will complete the midfield trio. Both are neat and tidy players, with Cleverley more likely to play at the top of the triangle, bursting forward into attack.


Captain Troy Deeney starts up front, but drops into deeper positions to link play and is also a great aerial force. With Odion Ighalo’s goals drying up, Deeney is Watford’s major goal threat.


The defence is likely to be comprised of Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Prodl and Miguel Britos. Although the current fashion is to field mobile, technical players on the outside of the three-man defence, these are all very old-school defenders. Arsenal might find space by attacking on the outside of this trio – right-sided Kaboul can be slow on the turn, while Britos isn’t the quickest. It’s also notable that Watford have the worst disciplinary record in the Premier League – 52 bookings and three dismissals.

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