For once, Arsenal’s trip to Watford isn’t the Hornets cup final. It’s Arsenal’s.
Troy Deeney’s cojones must be beside themselves. Not only did he help his side make the FA Cup final for only the second time in their 121-year history but he gets to play Arsenal a week later.
If Arsenal fans had any concerns ahead of this game – what with their team being complete idiots on the road and the only side in the world not to keep a clean sheet on their travels – Watford’s progression to the FA Cup final might, possibly, alleviate some of them.
In truth, it could go two ways. Watford could be distracted by the thoughts of another Wembley showpiece after their win over Wolves but they could also play out of their skins as they all try to nail down a once-in-a-lifetime cup final place.
Deeney, for all his talk, has only ever scored two goals against Arsenal and he’s lost against them five times compared to the three he’s won. Still, this is not a man short on confidence. We can’t expect reality to impinge on his thinking that the size of the stones genetically bestowed upon him is what makes a player great.
Still, he doesn’t need to be Lionel Messi for Arsenal to make a total hash of this. Over the course of the last two seasons, Arsenal have won just 9 of their 34 league games away from home (five of those were this season). That’s not far short of a full season with just 27 points on the board. Cardiff City are in the relegation zone at present with 28.
In those 34 games, Arsenal conceded an embarrassing 59 goals that were nowhere near balanced out by the 46 they managed to score. So, in short, Arsenal are shit when they leave The Emirates.
To make matters worse, Watford have won their last five games at home while Arsenal lost on both the last two occasions they turned up at Vicarage Road. And they will have to do it with Shkodran Mustafi in defence instead of Sokratis who managed to get himself booked against Everton in the final game he could pick up a two-game ban.
But I’m a firm believer that things won’t always be this way.
There was a time in the recent past when Arsenal were better away from home than at it. This terrible run of form has to change again sometime, right?
Arsenal have seven cup finals left this season as they chase that shiny Champions League qualification trophy. Five of them are away. Taking just the league games and leaving Napoli to the side, if Arsenal stay true to form, they will win one of them. Will it be this one?