Arsenal-Watford Preview

Arsene Wenger is hoping a thrashing of the Premier League leaders has planted the seeds for Arsenal to turn around a dismal Champions League campaign.

First, they’ll try to avoid overlooking newly promoted Watford.

With a vital Champions League match looming midweek, the Gunners make the short trip to Vicarage Road on Saturday when they try to maintain their recent momentum after the international break.

Wenger has come under fire for Arsenal (5-1-2) losing their first two Champions League matches with its next two coming against German powerhouse and group leader Bayern Munich.

The critics were silenced Oct. 4, when the Gunners followed a midweek loss to Olympiacos by doing all of their scoring in the opening 19 minutes of a 3-0 mauling of Manchester United, knocking them out of first place in the league.

The victory tied them with United for second, two points back of leaders Manchester City.

Wenger feels improving the team spirit can lead to more consistency – and eventually a championship.

"You can have different degrees of team spirit, because without it you have no football at all – everybody would just do what he wants," Wenger told the team’s official website. "We know that to have a chance of being successful, we want to be more of a team than any other side in the Premier League. Therefore, I believe it’s a little bit like a flower.

"You have to take care of it and look after it every day, or else it will slowly die. But as well, you can make the flower bigger, better and prettier if you care for it."

Goals from Alexis Sanchez also help. The forward leads the club with six goals across all competitions, and he’s scored them all over the last three matches – including two against Man United.

His outstanding stretch continued during the international break, scoring a goal in each of Chile’s first two World Cup qualifiers – wins over Brazil and Peru.

Mesut Ozil broke his duck against United, scoring for the first time in 18 games dating to last season. The slick midfielder also assisted on Sanchez’s first tally.

Arsenal have won their last four league meetings with Watford (2-4-2), but this will be the first time they make the 29-kilometer voyage to Vicarage Road since Oct. 14, 2006.

The Hornets are 2-1-1 in their last four games, and have been a pleasant surprise while sitting 12th in the league. They’re coming off a 1-1 draw with fellow Premier League newcomers Bournemouth on Oct. 3.

Facing Arsenal for the first time, Odion Ighalo has scored five of Watford’s six goals, netting four in the past four games. The Nigerian forward made his only shot on target count against the Cherries, scoring just before the half for the match’s equaliser.

Watford will need to show some improvement in the box, where he’s managed two shots on goal in each of the last two games. However, they’ve allowed just seven goals to tie Arsenal, City, Crystal Palace and Tottenham for the fewest in the Premier League.