When North London’s finest reds take on North West London’s finest yellows this Saturday, it will be the 27th time the two clubs have met on the football pitch. You’ll have to go all the way back to 1905 to see when the two clubs first met, the then Woolwich Arsenal (spurs fans shudder), beating Watford 3-0 in an FA Cup tie.
Since then, it’s fair to say Arsenal’s journey has been relatively smooth in comparison to Watford’s. The hornets have done some serious flip-flopping between the leagues over the years, achieving their first top flight promotion in 1982 under Luther Blissett, and then having to do it again in 99’, 06’ and 15’. The history of these two clubs alone, therefore, will always make Arsenal, the Premier League long hauler, favourites to take all three points.
However, recent history may tell a slightly different story. Arsenal have become a journalists dream over the last few seasons or more. In the mid 00’s, Arsenal’s fan base were given a new super stadium along with the promise that soon they would be a force to be reckoned with in Europe. Being thrashed by Bayern Munich 11-2 on aggregate only last year and now competing in the Europa League, many fans are calling for Wenger’s resignation at the very least.
Watford’s fan base has felt heartache much worse the Arsenal’s. Staying in the Premier League is probably what most fans want with any other bonuses surely welcome. And to start this season as one of the teams hotly tipped to take the plunge once again, a wave of worry may have been approaching. Though luckily, things have gone slightly different.
Watford sit in eighth, only three places below Arsenal, with seven games played and above a lot of really good teams. Recent Brazilian signing, Richarlison is on fire and newly appointed manager Marco Silver seems to know what he’s doing. The fact that shot stopper, Heurelho Gomez, chose to appear on Goals on Sunday the morning after letting in six goals courtesy of Man City, yet still with so many good things to say about his season so far, shows a team that is happily buzzing away.
As predicted by many, fans and pundits alike, Arsenal’s first six games have been slightly rocky. The worst of the rumbly ride happening at Anfield where the gunners appeared to hang up their boots well before the full time whistle had blown, leading to some of the loudest calls for Wenger to resign since the whole ‘Wenger out’ fiasco began.
Since their Merseyside thrashing, Arsenal have picked up the pieces somewhat. Winning three of their last four games and holding Chelsea to a draw away from home, the Wenger out calls have simmered slightly, though a loss to Watford would surely bring the pot back to boil.
Key Details: Fixture: Watford FC v. Arsenal FC Time and Date: Oct 14, 5.30pm Stadium: Vicarage Road
Last time: 2-1 (Watford) On TV: BT Sport Key Injuries: Mustafi, Cazorla, Chambers (Arsenal) Prodl, Kaboul, Cathcart, Chalobah (Watford)
Craig Louis Bitton