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Arsenal v Watford: Deeney Danger Against Depleted Defense

An Arsenal side just off the back of a high-profile European win against AC Milan following 4 straight losses plays host to Watford on Sunday in the Premier League, and manager Arsene Wenger will be hoping to build upon the momentum gained from beating the Rossoneri in the San Siro.Javi Garcia's side sit 9th place in the table on 36 points, and with their Premier League safety almost - but not quite - confirmed, they will be out to emulate the likes of Brighton and Swansea in recent weeks and get a win against Wenger's side.After four losses in a row in high profile matches, the French manager was under severe pressure going to Milan, but a convincing 2-0 win in the first leg has perhaps allowed people to lower their pitchforks slightly in relation to the continuing of his tenure at the club... at least for now.Watford have won the past two matches – against West Brom and most recently Everton – and with the exception of a defeat at West Ham, have been having a particularly good time as of late under manager Javi Garcia. The undoubted highlight of their last few weeks was a complete demolition of current champions Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who they beat 4-1 at the beginning of February.Garcia’s side pack a punch, and certainly have enough about them to trouble Arsenal. Troy Deeney, their controversial forward, can be a decisive figure, especially among supporters of other clubs, but one thing is for sure, he has been in excellent form. The English striker bagged the only goal in both of the past two games, and will be hoping to cause an Arsenal side that has been shipping goals some real problems.Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet in the league in almost 3 months, with the last one coming in the home game against Newcastle United on the 16th of December. Petr Cech will be looking to rectify this poor record, and in doing so become the goal keeper with the most Premier League clean sheets ever – a record he has been waiting longer than expected to break! The last time the Gunners went 12 league games without a clean sheet was between the months of April to October 1988, so hopefully this is their chance to break this duct.Watford won’t make it easy though, as previous visits have shown. The reverse fixture was won by the Hornets in mid-October, with Deeney and Cleverley negating Per Mertesacker’s opening, and in the match at the Emirates in January 2017 it was the same outcome, with Deeney also getting on the scoresheet.They’re a side that compete with Arsenal with zero fear, and in the Gunners current form, may prove to be a daunting prospect. The fixture will certainly make for good preparation in the anticipation of the Rossoneri making their way to North London next week.Speaking prior to the game, Jack Wilshire admitted his side had not been good enough in recent weeks."We know we haven't been good enough. We are aware of it. We have got to use this win (against AC Milan) as a target. We have got to reach these levels every week." The English midfielder said. In injury news, expected to be out for the game are defenders Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, with the latter set to miss his first full league game of the season after dropping to the bench for the first time in the Brighton loss. Potentially joining them as absent are fellow martials Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac, who both went off during the game in Italy, meaning they are doubts. If all four are out, Wenger will find himself in a bit of a defensive selection crisis. Also out is Alexandre Lacazette and long-term absentee Santi Cazorla, but returning to the team is Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who was cup tied for the AC Milan encounter on Thursday evening. The Hornets are bringing a pretty much full-strength team to the Emirates with the exception of midfielder Tom Cleverley who has been out with a thigh injury since January, and despite returning to training, is expected to be unable to feature.Arsenal’s league form of late has been nothing short of shocking. Since the Gunner’s demolition of Sam Allardyce’s Everton on the 3rd of February, they have lost every match. Defeats against Tottenham, Manchester City and Brighton have made the league table look a lot more daunting and Wenger will be hoping to avoid losing the most consecutive league matches ever in his tenure, with the last time his side losing four being in 1995 under caretaker Stewart Houston.Arsenal are currently in 6th place in the league on 45 points after 29 matches, which is a significant 8 points behind Chelsea in 5th position and an enormous 13 points behind Tottenham in 4th place on 58 points. With this being the case, automatic Champions League positions seem very improbable - with 9 matches left to play, the maximum amount of points Arsenal could earn for the remainder of the season is 74 points. To put that in context, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side are already on 78 points!There is a fear that if Arsenal drop more points they may find themselves fighting to ensure their place in the Europa League next season - Burnley in 7th position are now only 5 points behind Arsenal and Leicester City in 8th place are only 8 points behind the Gunners. It is hard to be confident about Arsenal’s performances when it comes to the league this season, but generally the side have performed well at home. This match-up offers a difficult but good opportunity to get performances domestically back on track, while offering a tough test to prepare for Thursday’s huge match.Watford come to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday the 11th of March to face Arsenal in the Premier League, with kick-off scheduled for 1.30pm.