The visitors suffered a damaging 4-0 victory against former league champions Manchester City last time out. This loss did a notable damage to their goal difference, which could either make or break their survival in the Premier League. Consequently, Nigel Pearson — who appeared to have done a marvellous job so far — was relieved of his duties.
An unlikely result at Villa Park further worsened their predicament after this loss. Aston Villa, their closest threat, registered a crucial 1-0 victory against Watford's upcoming opponents, Arsenal. After beating both the current and former champions of the league in less than a week, the Gunners succumbed to an embarrassing loss away to Dean Smith's men. Trezeguet scored the only goal to put a tightly-contested affair to bed.
That result meant that Villa are now above the Hornets due to a -1 goal difference (-26 v -27). On the other hand, the loss also heaped further misery on Arsenal, who are now guaranteed their lowest finish since the turn of the century.
Watford require at least a point to secure survival, while the Gunners would look to close out their season with a resounding victory.
Arsenal vs Watford Head-to-head
Both Arsenal and Watford head into this fixture on the back of costly losses. Arteta's side, currently sitting in tenth place with 53 points, have picked up essential victories but have been in stuttering form since the restart. They've won four and lost four in their last nine league games, including losses to Villa, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Watford, meanwhile, have played eight games since the restart, managing to win just two of them and muster one draw. They have one of the worst away records in the league, having achieved only two victories on their travels — and both were against relegation candidates Norwich City and Bournemouth. The Hornets have lost a staggering six of their last seven away games, drawing the other.
Caretaker boss Hayden Mullins has quite a task on his hands to get a result against a side they haven't beaten in three years. Arsenal have won thrice on the spin losing to Watford in 2017, and drew once. That draw was a dramatic result at Vicarage Road as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead in September 2019.
Arsenal vs Watford Team News
With the FA Cup Final less than a week away from the game, star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could potentially be rested. However, one player who is unlikely to be available for the final and for Watford is Shkodran Mustafi.
After a commendable display against Manchester City in the semi-final, Mustafi picked up a worrying injury which could rule him out of this game. He was absent against Villa and could remain unavailable via injury, much like Pablo Mari, Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, and Gabriel Martinelli. Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi's absences are expected to continue amidst uncertainty over their futures.
Watford are still without the services of Gerard Deulofeu, Isaac Success, and Daryl Janmaat as they're all out injured. Additionally, combative French midfielder Etienne Capoue could miss out on the game due to a reported knock.
Arsenal vs Watford Predicted XIs
Arsenal Predicted XI (3-4-3): Emi Martinez; Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac, Bukayo Saka; Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka; Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah
Watford Predicted XI (4-5-1): Ben Foster; Kiko Femenia, Christian Kabasele, Craig Dawson, Adam Masina; Ismaila Sarr, Tom Cleverly, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Will Hughes, Danny Welbeck; Troy Deeney
Arsenal vs Watford Prediction
Given Watford's do-or-die situation in a bid to remain in the Premier League, the Hornets would understandably play to the best of their abilities. While Watford are capable of an unlikely upset, Mikel Arteta's men would hope to end their dismal season on a high and take some momentum heading into the FA Cup final. Even without Aubameyang, this Arsenal side has enough quality and precision on the counter to pick apart a desperate Watford. It is, in all likelihood, set to be a thrilling contest, albeit with Arsenal looking likelier to emerge victorious.
Predicted scoreline: Arsenal 2-1 Watford