The game against Watford on Monday evening will not be easy for Arsenal, there are many challenges that we have to overcome and not just in our opponents but also in ourselves, not least our mental state when it comes to playing away from home.
We are as close to a team comes in having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. At home we are formidable, almost unbeatable, a joy to watch and full of confidence regardless of the opponent – but away from home we are mice, our confidence is shot, we play like a team that already feels it has lost and we are most definitely not unbeatable.
But let’s put that to one side, for now, let’s assume that Unai Emery works his magic and instils belief into the players that we will beat Watford and sends the lads out with a winning mentality, what then are the dangers we face?
A force of nature, not a world class player for sure, but he epitomises what Watford represent, a never say die attitude and a drive to win at all costs, he will be influential in every attack, he will occupy the minds of all our defenders every time the Hornets push forward, if we do not handle him he will cause chaos, he has to be nullified it is as simple as that, he cannot be allowed to stamp his authority on the game.
We saw what he did to Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final, the former Barcelona forward has the potential to be a game changer, he can be quiet for large tracts of the games but just like that he can turn from being a bystander into a match winner, he can both score and create out of nothing and at no time can we be lead into a false sense of security that he has been neutered.
Doucoure has made the most assists of any Watford player in the Premier League this season, well, joint top with defender Jose Holebas and he is their third highest goalscorer, as midfielders go, he is very influential, he was their player of the season last year and for very good reasons, he cannot be allowed to get a foothold in the midfield, he has to be closed down otherwise we will regret it.
There are other dangers like Will Hughes and Jose Holebas, but the three I have highlighted pose significant risks if they are not managed on the pitch from the get-go.