Arsenal’s biggest question against Watford is who starts at striker, but the answer can only land on one man—Eddie Nketiah.
There are a lot of really intriguing subplots to keep track of against Watford in addition to the big plot of if Arsenal can be the team to spell Watford’s demise. There’s the Aubameyang scoring a handful of goals to win the Golden Boot question and there is the big question—who starts up top?
For being such a relatively trivial game by Arsenal standards, this one decision can say a lot. Especially since Mikel Arteta took the easy way out against Aston Villa and just started both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, thus preventing all us from hardcore speculating what it all means for the future.
Against Watford, there won’t be any hiding from it. Nicolas Pepe is almost assuredly going to start on the right, which means that the question of who starts up front has to have a definitive answer.
I will say that it’s not like we will be able to figure everything out just from one decision, but throughout Nketiah’s tenure as the starter, many accepted it as a sign that Lacazette was going to be sold.
That only changed out of the blue when Arteta upturned the rotational system, and was then compiled on by Nketiah’s red card.
But against Watford, the final match of the season, with nothing to play for but intrigue, it’s a chance to make a statement. Start Lacazette, and you gain nothing other than a few spatterings of belief that Lacazette could be hanging around for another year.
Start Nketiah, however, and we can all say with relative confidence that this is what we have to look forward to in the future, that Lacazette is likely gone, that someone will be coming in to replace him, probably Luka Jovic, and that’s a whole lot more exciting than thinking that we have another year of inconsistency from Lacazette to “look forward to.”
Watford is a prelude to the future, Chelsea is a testament of the moment. You can’t read into the Chelsea match. Start Lacazette, he’s more experienced for the moment.
Watford though? Make a statement. Give the start to Nketiah and let the team feel like it’s going to feel next year. Which is a hell of a lot closer than it normally would be at this juncture.