Watford v Arsenal: Gunners will have too much firepower for Hornets

Watford have shown signs of improvement in defence but Arsenal can score a convincing win in Sunday's clash at Vicarage Road, says Dave Tindall...

Watford hoping to build on Old Trafford draw

Sitting second bottom with 12 games to play isn't where Watford want to be but perhaps there is more hope of survival than previously.

The Hornets were a lost cause when it came to keeping clean sheets but the arrival of Roy Hodgson has certainly addressed that issue. With Roy's drills paying off, Watford have now kept three clean sheets in their last six Premier League starts, somewhat of an improvement on none in the previous 20 this season.

The value of those shutouts can be seen in two of Watford's last three results: a 1-0 away win at Aston Villa and a further morale-boosting 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.

The Vicarage Road outfit still have some tough games to play - away to Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea - but home games with potential relegation rivals Everton, Leeds, Brentford and Burnley suggest there is a path to safety.

That said, the exchange market provides a rather gloomy opinion. Watford are 1.3 to go down, suggesting they'll finish second bottom, just in front of Norwich.

The big problem for Hodgson is goals. They've scored just twice in his six games in charge so while he's gone some way to fixing one end, it appears to have come at a cost.

Gunners fancied for Top 4 finish

Arsenal enter the weekend in sixth place and yet are just 1.84 to make the top four and finish in a Champions League spot.

That seems a leap of faith given that they're behind Manchester United and West Ham but the simple explanation is the games played column. Arsenal have played just 24 times, three fewer than the two sides above them.

The Gunners also have a three-point advantage and a game in hand over North London rivals Tottenham, who lie seventh.

Having extra matches could potentially be a problem in terms of fixture congestion but not for Arsenal this season. They lost to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semis, crashed out of the FA Cup to Nottingham Forest and aren't involved in Europe competition.

It all means Mikel Arteta and his men can give full focus to securing the Champions League spot that has eluded them since 2016.

That clear objective certainly seems to be helping. Arsenal will be seeking a fourth straight Premier League win on Sunday after home and away victories against Wolves and a home success against Brentford.

Handicaps best way to eke value from Gunners

The Gunners aren't considered the absolute biggest certainties of the weekend but they're one of them. The win market shows Arsenal at 1.63, with Watford 6.6 and The Draw 4.1.

Confidence rises when noting that only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more games than Arsenal (14) this season and that's even more worthy given that they've played fewer matches than most.

Head-to-head records also lead us down only one path. In the last 15 Premier League matches between the pair, it's 12 wins for Arsenal, two for Watford and one draw.

As for the Roy Hodgson angle, that's a negative for Watford too. The former England manager has managed just a single win in the last 12 against Arsenal, losing seven of those.

Need more? Watford have lost more home games than any other top-flight side this season, crashing to defeat 10 times and conceding 31 goals in the process.

Arsenal have five away wins and this looks an obvious opportunity for a sixth. The outright odds are a touch slim but given that Crystal Palace won 4-1 at Vicarage Road in Watfod's latest home game, there's scope to play the Gunners on the handicap market.

Palace had only scored 11 away goals before sticking four past Watford so Arsenal (-1) at 13/8 looks very playable.

Saka worth a look on the Bet Builder

Bukayo Saka has taken his goal count into double digits this season thanks to seven Premier League strikes, another in the League Cup and two for England.

Add in the filter of Premier League away games and Saka has three in his last three on the road, those goals coming against Leeds and Norwich (2).

That suggests he can cash in against the weaker sides and I like the look of him in the Bet Builder market. Saka to score anytime and Arsenal to win pays around 4.3.

Conflicting arguments in Over/Under 2.5 market

On the evidence of Watford's two away games - 1-0 at Villa and 0-0 at Man Utd - Under 2.5 goals would be the play at 1.87.

However, the 4-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace paints a very different picture. If Arsenal pick them off in the same way, Over 2.5 at 2.08 appeals.

Watford will surely have to try and come out more and that makes them vulnerable given Arsenal's impressive recent away form.

Watford's struggle for goals means Both teams to Score 'No' is an option at 1.85. But, then again, they found the net against Palace despite taking a beating. 'Yes' is 2.1.

Opta stat

Arsenal have won each of their last three Premier League away games, having won just two of their first eight on the road this season (D1 L5). The Gunners have opened the scoring in each of their last five Premier League away games, last having a longer such run between January and May 2015 (7).

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