It’s the last game of the season and instead of all eyes looking at us fighting for a higher league position – the majority will be looking to next week.
Our season yet again hinges on a Cup Final. Last season we put all our eggs in the Europa League basket and lucked out. This season, our Premier League campaign has been once again mired in mediocrity, but the FA Cup represents a real opportunity to salvage something.
And once again, we face Chelsea in the Final.
But we still have this final game in the League season to overcome, and we still have a chance to finish higher than we currently stand. It will be no higher than eighth of course – a position that will be the lowest since 1994/95 – but we must seize it. The difference may be miniscule but in terms of prize money, that extra few millions could prove the difference in a lot of ways – including player acquisition.
Our final game is versus Watford. The Hornets, much like our previous opponents Aston Villa, face the very real threat of relegation. They need to better Villa’s result by two or more goals should Villa win.
We, meanwhile, need to avoid costly injury. But players also need to stake their claim to play in the Cup.
Arteta has a few choices to make.
Shkodran Mustafi will miss both remaining games, so Rob Holding looks likely to be in for those, alongside David Luiz. There is also the possibility that Sokratis could play, but the Greek defender hasn’t featured at all since lockdown and looks likely to leave the club.
Will Arteta shuffle for this? With both Guendouzi and Ozil likely to leave the club this summer, both would want to play before they depart. Arteta may give them a final swansong, although more likely is they both continue to sit these out.
In terms of changes from the norm, Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah could well feature, to give the likes of Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos and any of our forward line a breather. Then again, rhythm cannot be understated so we could see a strong lineup, much like Arteta hinted at in his press conference.
Player to Watch
After his ‘cojones’ comments in the corresponding fixture, Deeney isn’t exactly well liked at The Emirates. Players will remember it and want to send him a message that we are far better than that. He could be a marked man, but he is also the talisman for Watford for a reason. Plenty of strength and no stranger to gamesmanship, he’ll put Holding and Luiz through a stern test.
How This Could Go
After the club sacked Nigel Pearson at the strangest time, that could well play into our hands. Without a coach they will suffer, no matter how good the players know the system.
They will scrap for everything of course, and if we play like we did against Villa, then Watford will probably win. But Arsenal will want to get back on the winning trail – and have plenty to prove to Watford after the last game we played against them – which we lost.
The Cup Final needs to be shut out of our players’ minds, and we need to give this game everything. If I was Arteta, players like Willock, Nelson and Torreira should be given a start, to give them a shot at earning a spot for the Cup. They will be hungry and will match the fight and desire that Watford will bring.
It’s simple. We need to want it. If we do then we should have enough in the tank. If we score a couple, Watford’s heads will drop too.
Let’s finish on a high boys.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Cedric, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Nelson, Saka, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 To The Arsenal#
Have a go at picking the team here.