Unai Emery says the fact that Arsenal are competing for a place in the top four is evidence that his team has a strong mentality, but admits that Arsenal can still improve away from home.

The Gunners face Watford tonight in a game which could put a real dent in our chances of Champions League qualification via the Premier League, or put us up into fourth with renewed vigour for our remaining domestic games this season.

It comes on the back of a positive 2-0 win over Napoli in the Europa League, but with the memories of our defeat at Goodison Park still fresh in the mind.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Arsenal boss played down suggestions that his team was weak mentally, saying, “We are playing to be in the top four. We are showing we are competitive with a good mentality.

“It’s a process but this team has a good mentality. We are improving, the table is giving us this answer.

“You can say two things. There is an amazing response at home, amazing. Big matches and big results, really, really awesome.

“Away we are sometimes doing good matches but in other moments the opposition is being more competitive than us. We were improving our away points and performances from last year. We were being very competitive with different players and systems at home.

“Away we are not consistent in each single match to take the three points with a big performance.”

Emery is expecting a tough test at Vicarage Road this evening, calling on his team to be strong defensively, but to try and replicate the home form which has been so good throughout the season.

The Spaniard will welcome Granit Xhaka back into the squad after a groin strain, Lucas Torreira is available for selection in the Premier League again, although Sokratis will sit out this game – and the Palace game on Sunday – after picking up his 10th booking of the season in the game against Everton.

Read the Arseblog preview of Watford v Arsenal

Changes inevitable for Watford, but Arsenal’s approach will be key to success

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Thierry Walcott

Watford away should be a difficult match more especially given our away form but I am surprisingly optimistic about our chances for this match. We’ll win this and set ourselves up for a strong finish.

Owl faced Deeney's cojones
Owl faced Deeney's cojones

Due to our mental weakness, every game is potentially difficult. Does it change anything if a manager pretends his team does not have mental weakness? Wenger said this for 10 years and it didn’t change much. Last year our record away was bad.

Jack
Jack

If I see a midfield of Guendouzi and Elneny tonight I will cry.

Frank Bascombe
Frank Bascombe

Oh dear…

Sok
Sok

I know right, you can’t place chickens in front of wolves.

Bendtnerschridtmastree
Bendtnerschridtmastree

Now that both Xhaka and Torreira is back I’m quite sure we wont see Elneny play for Arsenal again.

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

After what happened at Everton I think they will cry!

Josheha
Josheha

We’re in a tough spot with game tonight and then Thursday. Time for this team to shine and put bloody Watford to the sword. Coyg

Owl faced Deeney's cojones
Owl faced Deeney's cojones

If we have to win only one then this one is more important than Thursday. Lose 0-1 against Naples if our players really need their disappointment moment.

Guendozit!
Guendozit!

I’ll go 433.
Leno
Niles Laurent Monreal kolasinac
Granit Ramsey Torriera
Ozil
Lacca Aubameyang
In a system like this i won’t worry too much about Matteo or Mohammed in the middle as I’m confident we’ll dominate any midfield with any combination of four in the middle that includes ozil and Ramsey. The weakest link would be kolasinac playing LB, hopefully with left footed monreal(not mustafi please) playing behind him we will have some security. It’ll be tough but we’re winning tonight.

UpNorth
UpNorth

This game is crucial for our top 4 challenge. If the team give us a disaster performance like the Everton game, they’re simply not mentally strong enough to cope with the pressure. We can still lose to Watford, but at least we need to go down fighting and show morale.

Sam
Sam

I hope if our coach can use the same team that played with Napoli will not have any problem

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

This is the exact kind of fixture that has given us so many issues down the years. Watford are a more than decent side, relish a physical battle and will be keen to make it difficult for us in the middle of the park. We’re going to have to bring our A game tonight. Laca, Auba, Ozil, Ramsey from kick off please!

Sue

Well unfortunately we didn’t see that “strong mentality” last Sunday… so for it to make an appearance tonight, would be very welcome… and while you’re at it… please no Elneny or the green kit 😁

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

Rumour is we are playing in the green kit! But I don’t hold it responsible for our bad away form this season because we’ve lost in the red and white kit too…we just need to turn up!

Sue

Oh great… I wouldn’t say it was solely responsible (as we were crap away from home last season too) but we’ve only scraped a 2-1 V Bournemouth in it (I think!) and have been thrashed in it & played some awful football, so I think it’s a jinx!!!

Goonerink

I don’t think it is a jinx as much as its just wrong.
Its so far removed from our team colours that it is a natural deterrent from a players vision.

Its only a small variable in reality but I’m sure it plays some part.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

The frustrating thing is that we are a much better side than Watford and really ought not to be worrying about this game. If this was a home game then you could bet your mortgage on us getting the three points. But everybody knows we are mentally weak away from home.

Hopefully the Watford players will be more worried about not getting injured or banned for the cup final and will decide not to turn up.

But In the situation we find ourselves another pathetic away-day no-show just isn’t acceptable.

Sue

I personally think we’re a better side than Everton too (no disrespect)
I totally agree, not acceptable if they don’t turn up tonight. I’m going to the Palace game, so what usually happens before I go to a game is they lose & play terrible… cue a major meltdown, then i debate whether to go or not as I’m still gutted…although I do end up going 😆 the joys of being a gooner hey

kaius
kaius

I think our best XI is much better than Everton’s best, but some of the line-ups we’ve played this season with Elneny or Lichtsteiner or bad Mustafi bring our overall quality down to an Everton-type level.

Laca, Özil and Torreira all came off early against Napoli so hopefully those guys have a big game tonight

Lari03
Lari03

Honesty pray the usual stuff does not happen again.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

I think Emery will go with: Leno, AMN, mustafi, Kos, Nacho, Kol, the terrier, xhaka, Miki, Iwobi, Laca – ozil, Rambo and Auba will be on the subs bench just in case. Well that is my prediction although, personally, I would rest Nacho and play Ozil.

Mesut O'Neill
Mesut O'Neill

In the home games league we sit 3rd
In the away games league 10th.

Is that a strong mentality?

Saw a funny piece that suggests we perform so badly away from home because the crowd actually makes noise.

Goonereality
Goonereality

Clearly we don’t show anything near to the mentality needed away from The Emirates as Emery admits. The worry is that for all the talk, that’s all it’s been … talk, things haven’t improved. How are we going to change things at this stage of the season – the players are all the same, the coach is the same. If it’s confidence, then we need to get it back with a win – preferably a good one – tonight. Time is running out. If we’re not going to do it now, when?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

Think that is a bit unfair as we have had season ending injuries to two key defenders – holding and bellarin – I think with those two in the squad we would have had third sewn up