Petr Cech: 'Arsenal defeat to Watford is a huge setback'

Posted February 03, 2017

Danny Welbeck is unlikely to be risked from the start, while Granit Xhaka is still suspended. It nearly looks like Arsenal are expecting to beat these weaker teams without any trouble.

The Gunners' title challenge will be over if they lose on Saturday, and the main challenge facing the manager is a lack of midfield players at the moment. No midweek Premier victory since April 2007.

There was a touch of fortune about both of Watford's goals, but the visitors were more than worthy of their halftime advantage after dominating every aspect of the opening period. It is hard to see, under the current management, how Arsenal can ever make that leap again. "But they must win".

He is still lacking in that department, but that doesn't appear to have deterred Arsene Wenger from handing him further responsibilities in the Arsenal side.

"We are not in need of buying".

Wenger confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Mathieu Debuchy has returned to full training but could yet leave the club if an offer is received before the transfer window closes at 11pm on Tuesday.

"Everyone on the pitch and the players who came on did a terrific job". When looking at this streak, however, only one win - West Brom - came against a team in the top half of the table. "That's why not a lot happened". But we didn't play well at all. I have no basic regret in the way we prepared.

This is Watford's first win in the top flight against Arsenal since the 1-0 victory at Highbury in the old Division One on 15 April 1988 (with the winning goal from Rick Holden). Right-back Paddy Mulligan collected a long ball from the left with acres of space, took a touch to beat his defender in the box, and hit a gorgeous strike to the gamewinning goal.

Arsenal are blessed with an nearly entirely injury-free squad for the game against Watford.

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.

Watford, who handed a debut to AC Milan loanee M'Baye Niang, broke the deadlock in fortuitous circumstances after 10 minutes.

However, they did end a run of five consecutive away league defeats by drawing at Bournemouth last time out.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who watched from the stands as he served the second of a four-game touchline ban, said that attributing his side's poor start to his absence would be an "easy excuse".