Arsenal return from the international break to face bottom of the Premier League Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
The Hornets’ sole point from their opening four games saw popular manager Javi Gracia replaced by the returning Quique Flores since their last game. The Spaniard will not have had much time to work with his team due to the international disruption.
We start the weekend down in seventh place after being held 2-2 at home in the North London derby to start the month, but we are only outside the Champions League places on goal difference and one point behind Leicester City in third place.
Arsenal were dealt a big blow with Alexandre Lacazette picking up a hamstring injury in the North London derby. However, this will see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang move into the striker’s role where he scores frequently. The Gabon striker should be expected to score against the Hornets on Sunday.
Full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are both back in full training but are still several weeks away from being in contention to start. Ainsley Maitland-Niles should enjoy success when bombing forward from right-back in this game.
Centre-back Rob Holding is available again after returning from a knee injury but is unlikely to start this one with Sokratis, David Luiz and Shokdran Mustafi all available.
Midfielders Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock all picked up knocks on international duty and are considered slight doubts for this one. Nicolas Pepe is available after being given permission to miss the Ivory Coast’s games in order to remain with Arsenal to work on his fitness. The forward is yet to score since his club record summer transfer but I have a good feeling this will be the game he breaks his duck.
Hosts Watford are missing striker Troy Deeney to a knee injury and defender Craig Cathcart is also out. Danny Welbeck could face his former club after he left us on a free transfer over the summer.
The biggest question heading into this weekend is who will Unai Emery start in attack. I am expecting the boss to stick with three in attack and move Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into the middle to replace the injured Lacazette. There’s no reason why Nicolas Pepe won’t start on the right but the opposite flank is up for grabs. Youngster Reiss Nelson could come back into the starting lineup whilst Dani Ceballos can even play out wide, though hopefully he’s in the centre of the park to create chances. Mesut Ozil is available again but it would be a surprise to see the 2014 World Cup winner named in the starting lineup.
Captain Granit Xhaka will start if fit and Matteo Guendouzi will probably get the nod ahead of Lucas Torreira once again to start alongside the Swiss international.
The back four that started against Tottenham Hotspur should keep their places for our short trip to Hertfordshire.
Arsenal predicted XI: Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos; Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Reiss Nelson
We have won five of our last six Premier League trips to Watford and as they sit bottom of the league we have to expect another three points on Sunday. Our two victories so far this season have only come by the odd goal but I am confident the margin will be greater this time out.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang should have success versus a defence that has shipped eight goals in their first four games of the season whilst Dani Ceballos is the man to create chances for him. Granit Xhaka’s passing should also prove useful whilst Nicolas Pepe has to fancy his chances of getting his first Arsenal goal as I can see this game ending Watford 1-3 Arsenal.