Beware Arsenal, Marco Silva and Richarlison have Watford buzzing

Beware Arsenal, Marco Silva and Richarlison have Watford buzzing
From ESPN - October 13, 2017

When it comes to reacting to disappointment, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is better than most. Some might suggest that he's had plenty of practice, but we like to rise above that sort of talk here. Wenger is experienced: he does not panic and, with the notable exception of last season, he can pull his team out of any nosedive and secure a fourth-place finish.

Since losing 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield in August, Arsenal have picked up 10 points from 12 and kept four clean sheets in the process. They are rediscovering their confidence. And they will need it this weekend at Watford.

Marco Silva surprised many this summer when he opted to take the manager's job at Vicarage Road. With his stock high after somehow cajoling a spirited fight out of a broken Hull City squad who eventually succumbed to relegation, he was not short of options. So why Watford?

Managers do not tend to last too long in Hertfordshire, no matter how good their reputation. Walter Mazzarri, Quique Sanchez Flores and Slavisa Jokanovic were all granted just one full season each, though they are relative veterans compared to their predecessors Bill McKinlay (2 games), Oscar Garcia (4 games, but he left for reasons of ill health) and Beppe Sannino (31 games). With Southampton and Crystal Palace both in the frame, along with the option of sitting tight and waiting for "sacking season" this autumn, why would Silva take his chances with a revolving door club?

But the Portuguese has taken a squad that appeared little more than Troy Deeney and a transient blob of international investment opportunities and he has made a team. Watford rocked Liverpool back on their heels on the opening day, kept three consecutive clean sheets thereafter and, with the exception of being obliterated 6-0 by a rampant Manchester City, have impressed in every game. That they were able to claw back a point in the dying seconds of their clash away at West Bromwich Albion speaks volumes for their character.

Their away record (10 points from a possible 12) is rather better than at home (two from nine), which is odd because Silva's record at Hull was the exact opposite. However, it is unwise to make big conclusions from small sample sizes. Home and away, Watford present a sizeable challenge.

Watford's owners, the Pozzo family, have raised a few eyebrows with their commitment to freshening up the manager's office so regularly, but it's hard to argue that any of their decisions have backfired. Some former employees can certainly feel hard done by, but the club sails serenely onwards and even reached the FA Cup semifinals in 2015-16 -- their first season back in the top flight in almost a decade.

For this, much credit must go to the transfer policy and scouting network that holds up the family's interests. The same structure that unearthed talents like Alexis Sanchez and Samir Handanovic at Udinese continues to pay dividends.


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