English Premiership

Under-fire Wenger boosted by return of key duo

2016-08-26 11:04
Arsene Wenger (Getty Images)

Watford - With Arsene Wenger once again under fire for a lack of success in the transfer market, the Arsenal manager will be relieved to welcome back Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil for their first starts of the season at Watford on Saturday.

Giroud and Ozil made brief substitute appearances in last weekend's draw at champions Leicester after being kept out of the opening weekend defeat against Liverpool following their Euro 2016 exertions with France and Germany respectively.

In the absence of the two key players, Wenger's side have made a stuttering start and head to Vicarage Road still searching for a first win.

And the return of France striker Giroud and Germany playmaker Ozil will undoubtedly beef up Wenger's forward options after they appeared limited at Leicester.

Wenger is still without midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a hamstring problem when he started against Liverpool.

Ramsey's appearance after helping Wales reach the Euro semi-finals came as a surprise to his national team coach Chris Coleman, who hinted Wenger had pushed the player too hard.

"We all expected Aaron to miss the match so I don't know what happened between then and when he ended up on the pitch," Coleman said.

"Obviously only Arsenal can answer that. If you were looking at that team-sheet, it was a bit of a surprise he started. Aaron said himself he wasn't expecting to."

Wenger's gamble on Ramsey backfired but his decision to restore France centre-back Laurent Koscielny to the starting line-up at Leicester paid off, despite the defender carrying a back injury.

Koscielny added strength to a back-four that had looked distinctly suspect against Liverpool and Gunners winger Theo Walcott believes his side must match their efforts at Leicester when they face a Watford side also looking for a first win of the season.

POSITIVE

"We want to have a similar sort of performance to when we last played Watford away," Walcott said.

"It doesn't matter how we play, as long as we get the three points.

"We don't want teams getting away from us but it's only two games in.

"We've got a nice run of games now and we've got to think about all of the positives.

"Watford is going to be another tough game because every game is this season, so it's going to be very difficult.

"Each team gets better each year. We want to have a similar sort of performance to when we last played Watford away."

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri added to his squad with the signing of Newcastle right-back Daryl Janmaat this week.

The Dutch defender will come into contention for a start, while Younes Kaboul and Roberto Pereyra, signed too late to feature in last weekend's home defeat against Chelsea, should make their league debuts for the Hornets.

While Mazzarri found positives in the narrow loss to Antonio Conte's side, the manager was left fuming following his side's midweek English Football League Cup defeat to third tier Gillingham.

Just as against Chelsea, Watford squandered a lead and Mazzarri said: "I need to change this mentality of the players when we go ahead.

"I'm very angry because we can't see the danger of teams when we go ahead.

"The moment we go ahead we should continue to play well but we couldn't see the danger and got complacent.

"Instead of becoming stronger and working harder we changed our attitude completely. I don't think I made too many changes, we were creating chances regardless.

"The players are fit enough. Even though all players get tired in extra time perhaps they were mentally tired a bit. We just need to work on our mentality when we go ahead."

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30 September 2016
Everton v Crystal Palace, Goodison Park 21:00
01 October 2016
Swansea City v Liverpool, Liberty Stadium 13:30
West Ham United v Middlesbrough, Olympic Stadium 16:00
Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion, Stadium of Light 16:00
Hull City v Chelsea, The KC Stadium 16:00
Watford v Bournemouth, Vicarage Road 16:00
02 October 2016
Manchester United v Stoke City, Old Trafford 13:00
Leicester City v Southampton, King Power Stadium 15:15
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City, White Hart Lane 15:15
Burnley v Arsenal, Turf Moor 17:30
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