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Saturday 17 October 2015

Out Of The International Fire And Into The Premier League Frying pan (A Watford Preview, Of Sorts)..

At last we come to the end of another insidious international break and go back to the rumble and tumble of the Premier League. When we last we met football at club level we had dispatched Man United with a form of Blitzkrieg that any Army General would be proud of, never mind any football manager. It was the culmination of a week's worth of pain, or rather a midweek slump in the Champions League. It is worth reminding people that we won the game before United in the league 5-2 at Leicester, at that stage they were the only remaining unbeaten side in the division. We are on good form overall in the League and you could say that the West Ham loss on the opening day was perhaps our darkest hour; but even then one can look at the ease and luck with which they disposed of both Liverpool and Man City and find it hard pressed not be to impressed with the Hammers start under new boss Slaven Billic.

We have had other hairy moments, the draw at home to Liverpool, or the loss at Chelsea. However, no one can truly judge a match that was so clearly decided by the referee's ineptitude, and a draw at home to Liverpool is clearly not the end of the world. Don't believe the negative hype around Arsenal, we are contenders this season; the United victory can be a springboard for our season; lets focus on making sure that performance was not our finest hour this year. If we do that, it will be worth every penny, highest ticket prices in the land, or not.

The international break, it seems, went well for Arsenal which is a sentence I never thought I would type. Sanchez added to his goal tally; Ozil added to his assist tally, Chamberlain finally hit the net again, Ramsey scored for a Wales team who qualified for the Euro's next summer and so on; but the biggest news is the fact that at the time of writing there have been no injuries. Wenger has said that although he is still waiting to see a few players, ( Alexis included, who went off against United with an injury as we all know) they had all texted to say they were fine. This is great news. Obviously the medical team will assess the players but it looks positive. The only question that remains is whether to risk certain players or whether they are too far into the dreaded Wenger-ism that is the; 'red zone'.

The red zone is the term the manager uses when certain players have niggles of bruises or have played too many games, and thus, their involvement in the next match will risk an injury or a more serious injury. It is a tricky situation for the manager to negotiate; does he risk Sanchez if he is not fully fit with Bayern Munich up next on Tuesday (A must not lose game) ? We all know the Chilean will want to play in both matches, but if there is any risk of injury then he should be benched. The logical answer is to say that Bayern Munich are the form team in Europe at the moment and to beat them we will need our best players, so rest him at Watford, but i'm not sure. It looks as if the odds are against us in Europe this year and I genuinely believe the team is capably of putting a strong challenge for the title this year.

If I were the manager and I absolutely had to make a choice, (after all this is all pure speculation), I would probably go for the Watford game and keep the League as the main focus this season. The Champions League always looks out of reach for us; even if we manage to get through the group it would take an awful amount of luck for us to win or have any chance of winning the competition. It can be done; Liverpool 2005, Chelsea 2012, to use English examples, but the difference is in the League we can win without needing to rely on luck. In general i'm not one for prioritizing competitions but this season I can see the sense in it. Beat Bayern Tuesday night and i'll probably feel different about it, however...

Anyway on to the game itself Saturday and as I said we are looking in good shape with regards to injuries and add to that it looks as if we have a few players returning to the squad. The manager revealed that Arteta and Flamini should be back but Koscielny will face a late fitness test. Again there is no need to take a risk with him as we have Gabriel and Mertesacker who were excellent against United.

City lost Aguero and Silva to injury on international duty so this looks like the perfect time for the team to put a good run together and hopefully capitalize on any slip ups from City. Next week there is the small matter of the Manchester derby which means one of the teams, at least, will drop points in the next couple of weeks. So let's just hope our own team can get the points on the board as it looks as if we are capable of getting maximum points from the next batch of fixtures leading up to the next international break.

Looking at the fixtures in the League after the trip to Vicarage road we play Everton at home then Swansea away before hosting the old enemy at the beginning of November. Obviously the North London derby is always incredibly important but after beating that lot at the Lane already this season you would hope the team will go into the game with confidence; the most difficult game looks like the trip to the Liberty as we don't have the best record there. That was one of the lowest points of last season, losing there after going a goal up. Let's hope we put it right this time around.

Providing the team is fit and ready I would be tempted to stick with the same lineup from the United game, it looked like the team found the right balance between fast attacking fluidity and a compact defence. Besides it is still only October so all this talk of rotating players is perhaps, a little early.

Watford have looked strong defensively this season and are well organized They have picked up a couple of impressive results such as the 2-2 draw at Everton and see themselves sitting firmly in mid table (only 6 points behind us too). They have only conceded one home goal this season which is countered by the fact that they have matched that tally from a scoring sense. It will be a tough game and as the stats suggest it will be tight, I expect goals. I'm going for a 2-3 away win; but just hoping for any win.

Right that will do for today

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Have a good one,

Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.

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