Covering Watford’s two fixtures in Double Gameweek 35 became a lot harder after the events of Monday night.
There was a no-show from injured midfielder Gerard Deulofeu (£5.6m), while Troy Deeney (£5.9m) will now miss the next three matches after being sent off.
We’ve got all the effects of Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Vicarage Road in this latest Scout Notes article.
Watford 0-1 Arsenal
Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m)
Andre Gray (£5.9m) may receive some transfer attention in the build-up to Watford’s involvement in Double Gameweek 35. He now looks the most likely of the Hornets forward players to start both matches next week, which see them travel to Huddersfield and host Southampton.
That’s because Deeney is now suspended for three matches following an elbow to the head of Lucas Torreira (£4.7m) in the first half. His sending off was a truly devastating development for those on Wildcards in Double Gameweek 34, when it was already looking bleak anyway. Deeney was selected in 43.59% of Wildcard squads among the top 10,000 managers this week, only Raúl Jiménez (£6.9m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.7m) achieving more backing at that level. Those managers all now have at least one transfer booked in for Double Gameweek 35.
They are probably best holding off for a few days though just to get more information on the fallout. Watford manager Javi Gracia was adamant in his post-match press conference that the referee had made the wrong decision in sending Deeney off, and an appeal could potentially be forthcoming.
“I don’t agree but I respect the referee’s decision. It’s maybe a yellow card. He doesn’t have to explain to me anything. I could see the play. I could see the contact with his arm but never his elbow. I don’t understand that decision. I never saw an aggression in the movement. I don’t understand why the referee took that decision.” – Javi Gracia
Meanwhile, Deulofeu was not in the matchday squad after picking up an ankle injury in Watford’s FA Cup semi-final earlier this month
Gracia initially diverted from his usual 4-4-2 formation to line the Hornets up in a 3-5-2. Daryl Janmaat (£4.9m) joined Christian Kabasele (£4.4m) and Craig Cathcart (£4.5m) in the back-three with Adam Masina (£4.3m) and Kiko Femenía (£4.2m) flanking central midfielders Will Hughes (£4.9m), Etienne Capoue (£4.8m) and Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.9m).
The latter has been considered as a viable option for investing in Watford’s upcoming pair of fixtures based on his security of starts and two goals in Double Gameweek 32. In the last six Gameweeks, he is also top for goal attempts, shots in the box and joint-top for efforts on target among Watford players. Also of encouragement for those looking to Doucouré in Double Gameweek 35, was that he took up some advanced positions in the early exchanges on Monday night. That ended as soon as Deeney was sent off and Gracia had to change shape, but it could be something he has the licence to do next week.
Ben Foster (£4.6m) was at the heart of the only goal of the game ahead of expected significant involvement in Double Gameweek 35 Bench Boost squads. Receiving a pass back from Kiko Femenía, he completely underestimated the pace of Aubameyang, who closed him down in time to block the goalkeeper’s clearance and direct it into the net. That obviously won’t inspire a huge amount of confidence in Foster owners, but he does have the benefit of playing goal-shy Huddersfield Town in the first of his Double Gameweek matches at least.
“I’ve gone to kick it and before I know it he’s bloody on me. To be fair, he’s absolutely rapid. I spoke to Bernd Leno at the end of the game and he said ‘it’s not your fault, he’s too quick’. I’m gutted for the lads, though.” – Ben Foster
Unai Emery pulled the rug from under the feet of Fantasy managers once again as he benched Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) for Monday night’s game. The Frenchman seemed the more likely of Arsenal’s senior strikers to start the match considering it was him who had his minutes managed against Napoli last Thursday, not Aubameyang. It was simply another example of how unpredictable Emery’s team selections are this season.
His decisions on the back-four ensured that Arsenal kept their first clean sheet away from home this season when their most popular defender was on the bench. Sead Kolasinac (£5.0m) was left among the substitutes, with Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) deployed at left-back. That meant Konstantinos Mavropanos (£4.7m) earned his first start of the season at centre-back alongside Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m), with Sokratis Papastathopoulous (£5.1m) suspended. Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m) was used at right-back again and was arguably one of the better players on the field, top of clearances, block and interceptions among Arsenal players in the match.
Arsenal lost a little bit of control in the second half when Emery started to make changes. He went to a back-three of Monreal, Mustafi and Koscielny but in bringing on young midfielder Matteo Guendouzi (£4.4m) for Mavropanos only caused confusion at the back, which Watford thrived on. Emery then had to revert back to a four-man defence by bringing Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.4m) on for Aaron Ramsey (£7.1m).
“I didn’t do these decisions to get all the control I want. I changed to a 4-2-3-1 with Ainsley. The anxiety in our team was also because in the second half they can take some moments to score. We worked well on set pieces and second actions.” – Unai Emery
As for that clean sheet itself, Arsenal probably owe it to a combination of Deeney’s dismissal and an impressive performance from Bernd Leno (£4.9m). Watford were obviously limited to a certain extent in their captain’s absence and a man down but still fashioned chances, hence why Arsenal’s goalkeeper was called into action regularly. After a shaky start to life in north London, Leno has gone from strength-to-strength in recent weeks. He made some excellent saves from Cathcart and Capoue to earn huge praise from the local press and by the end of the evening, the Arsenal fans were chanting his name.
“(Leno) has confidence and helps us a lot. He is competitive with Cech, giving them two competitions. They are both giving us a lot in goal.” – Unai Emery
Emery will now be sweating on the fitness of Torreira after he had to come out of the game at half-time. It was reported after the match that he was feeling some pain in his groin and that he might miss the Europa League quarter-final second leg in Naples. To stress his contribution to the team, Torreira won the ball back 10 times at Vicarage Road, more than any of his team-mates, despite playing just 45 minutes.
“It was a very physical match today but we can respond well. Torreira is the same problem like Thursday. It’s the same problem as Thursday.” – Unai Emery
Watford XI (4-3-1-2): Foster; Masina (Sema 86′), Cathcart, Kabasele, Janmaat; Doucouré, Capoue, Kiko Femenía (Success 59′); Hughes; A Gray, Deeney.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Monreal, Koscielny, Mavropanos (Guendouzi 59′),