Mikel Arteta has revealed that Edu is exploring ways of strengthening Arsenal’s relationship with neighbours Watford.
While the Spaniard was relatively vague about how the two clubs, who train next door to each other at London Colney, might work more closely, he made clear he’d always make time to chat to the Hornets’ new manager Roy Hodgson given the huge respect he has for everything the 74-year-old has achieved in his career.
“One hundred per cent,” replied the Spaniard when asked about meeting up with Roy for a chinwag. “I can walk there, no problem.”
He added: “It’s just incredible how long he’s been going and how he’s managed to balance his life in a way which has that much space for football and have a managerial career that has so many things implicit on that. It basically sucks your life out and you know he looks healthy, he looks good, I don’t know.
“He’s a person that I really admire and I think he’s a great example for any coach to spend some time with him.”
On geographical proximity helping Arsenal to forge closer ties with Watford, he added: “I had some friends there [at Watford] from my time here and it’s very easy because after training you just crash into each other with your cars. I think it’s great.
“I think that relationship should be stronger and stronger and for example, Edu has done some work on that to build those relationships because we are close I think we can help each other in many ways as well. I think it’s a possible thing.”
Asked what type of things Edu had brought up in conversation with Watford’s hierarchy, he continued: “At least open the relationships and explore possibilities that we can have with our players, with their players.
“They’re next door and we can compete against each other, but at the same time, I think it’s important to have good relationships and that’s the case, I think.”
The Gunners head to Vicarage Road on Sunday off the back of three consecutive wins and eager to keep pace with the top four. They were tough to beat back in November and Arteta is expecting more of the same now that Hodgson is at the helm.
“Very solid, very organised, very clear in how they want to approach the match and what they want to take from the match,” said the boss of our next opponents.
“We have to obviously do what we have planned and take the game in a completely different direction and that will be the challenge. It’s a great stadium with a great atmosphere, everything is tight and you know what you’re going to experience there.
He added: “Roy is extremely good at doing that [making teams resilient] and getting the team in the same mindset and working really hard, and making the team really compact and hard to beat, that’s for sure.
“The quality he has, he has more experience than anyone in this league to do that, how to mould the team, how to take the team where he wants and he is exceptional on that.”
According to the BBC, Watford have earned just seven points from 45 available against Arsenal in the Premier League (W2 D1 L12), though four of these have come in their last three home games against us (W1 D1 L1).