Another start for brilliant Lucas Perez – Our predicted XI for Arsenal vs Watford
Santi Cazorla is now the only player who is unable to train with the first team squad as he struggles to recover from a knee injury.
Mohamed Elneny has picked up a calf problem while on duty with Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations but he was expected to be unavailable anyway.
And Granit Xhaka, who had managed to start 12 games in a row, is now preparing for the second game of his four-match suspension after the red card he received against Burnley.
- Arsenal have won their last seven league matches against Watford, scoring 19 goals.
- However, Watford beat the Gunners 2-1 at the Emirates in last season’s FA Cup quarter-final tie.
- Their last top-flight win against Arsenal was by 1-0 at Highbury in April 1988.
- Arsenal have gone seven home league matches in a row without conceding a goal from open play – all four goals against them in that period have been penalties.
- They have scored an unrivalled six goals in the 90th minute or stoppage time this season, and have also managed a league-high 12 goals in the 80th minute or later.
The idle preference would be for Danny Welbeck or Theo Walcott to start, but it would be unnecessary to do that with players who are fresh from injuries at this time of the season.
Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil should be back in the starting eleven after their rest on Saturday but Olivier Giroud’s place in the line-up has to be taken by the far more mobile option of Lucas Perez.