[3-4-2-1] Arsenal XI vs Watford: Ozil and Auba Out, Lacazette, Iwobi and Guendouzi to Start in likely XI

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Unai Emery didn’t provide any update on the fitness of Granit Xhaka (thigh) in Thursday evening’s press conference, with the Swiss midfielder again missing in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Napoli on Thursday.

Lucas Torreira played in that game, though, and is now available for selection in the Premier League after a three-match domestic ban so the Uruguayan could well return alongside Aaron Ramsey or Matteo Guendouzi in central midfield.

While Ramsey was again excellent on Thursday, Watford’s physical approach may convince Emery to go with Guendouzi and Torreira in the middle, particularly with the crucial second leg in Naples taking place 72 hours later.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi were only among the substitutes against the Italian giants so could return to the starting XI at Vicarage Road should Emery wish to carefully manage his squad, while Alexandre Lacazette was withdrawn on 67 minutes with perhaps one eye on Monday’s match.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played the whole game, however, and, given that he has been benched in four of Arsenal’s last six league games (two of which were admittedly because of a virus), could find himself among the substitutes again at Watford.

Mesut Ozil produced another disappointing away display at Everton last weekend, so the German could well drop out of the line-up despite a much-improved performance against Napoli and an early substitution on Thursday night.

Sokratis is suspended for the match at Watford but Laurent Koscielny returned from injury in the Europa League and seems set to deputise in place of the Greek stopper.

Emery has used a 3-4-1-2/3-4-2-1 in his last five matches in all competitions, although changed to a 4-2-3-1 at half-time of that defeat to Everton.

The Arsenal boss bemoaned the number of chances that his side conceded when in a back four, though, so may stick with a wing-back system at Vicarage Road.

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