By Omar Moore
July 25, 2020
So it has come to this.
And it goes without writing: Watford know what is required at Arsenal tomorrow: a robust, winning performance that keeps them in the Premier League. For the first time since late January Watford find themselves in the drop zone. With only one game left.
Tomorrow will be a playoff game for the Hornets. Win and you are almost certainly in. Lose and you are almost definitely out. Forget Nigel Pearson. Forget Gino Pozzo. Forget Filippo Giraldi. Forget Scott Duxbury. Forget the abject Watford Project Restart performances, including the alarming one at West Ham. There will be plenty of time to analyze all of that after whatever happens at the Emirates in 24 hours or so.
The simple, plain reality for Watford on Sunday is this: Either boys or men will show up at the Emirates.
The Orns must go for it at Arsenal against a team with little to play for except perhaps a start in next Saturday’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. In the do-or-die affair on Sunday every Watford chance must be taken when attacking the Arsenal goal — not desperately but fearlessly.
For Watford, for the very first time this Premier League season — on its last day no less — there is something to lose.
Watford must start quickly out of the gate and attack the game. Do not wait for things to happen. Make them happen.
Be bold. Be brave. Be fearless.
Watford have conceded the first goal in all of the eight games of Project Restart, on each occasion leaving themselves a mini-mountain to climb. An obvious key to boosting confidence on Sunday would be for Watford to score the first goal and build from there. The mission for Watford must be to win. No other outcome, even with mathematical permutations that may require less, should be settled for.
Despite their abundance of skill, precision passing and a lethal strike force in Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arsenal can be a soft touch defensively. The Arsenal performance at Aston Villa in midweek was slightly off after their masterful dispatch of Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final exactly a week ago. The Gunners will be back home after an impressive home win last week over Premier League champions Liverpool. Arsenal could well be looking past Watford to the FA Cup Final against fellow Londoners and rivals Chelsea — and who could blame them? Arsenal players won’t want to pick up injuries ahead of the Final. Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta has indicated that his Arsenal side has an obligation to the Premier League to field a strong team.
Ex-Arsenal man Danny Welbeck will be a key player on Sunday for Watford.
Watford cannot afford to be tense or nervous. Adrenaline, purpose, precision and team togetherness must be the order of the day. If not now, when? It is time to go for broke.
As the Watford motto says: Our time is now.
Photo: Watford in happier times, last season at Vicarage Road. (Source: uncredited)