London - Danny Welbeck is targeting a first Premier League
start since last May when Arsenal face Watford on Tuesday after his two-goal
showing in the 5-0 FA Cup demolition of Southampton.
The England striker confirmed his return to fitness, scoring
twice at St Mary’s Stadium and is now hoping to play a more prominent role in
the Gunners’ bid to close the eight-point gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea
when Walter Mazzarri’s struggling Watford side visit the Emirates Stadium.
An injury picked up against Manchester City at the end of
last season led to the forward’s latest extended absence but Welbeck has been
blighted by fitness problems during his three-year stay at Arsenal.
"It was obviously good to be back out on the pitch
after such a long time out, it’s been a tough few months," Welbeck told
Arsenal Player after the Southampton game that booked the club’s place in the
last sixteen of the FA Cup.
"The thought of coming back definitely helped. I think
because I had this experience before, coming back from an injury, I kind of knew
what to expect even though it’s a tough time.
"The end game is to be back out on the pitch and
playing in the first team and I got that opportunity. I’m certainly looking
forward to doing it many more times."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was forced to watch from the
stands at St Mary’s on Saturday as he started his four-game touchline ban after
being charged for misconduct following his altercation with the fourth official
during the home defeat of Burnley.
Against Southampton, Wenger’s absence from the dug-out had
little impact and Theo Walcott, scorer of a weekend hat-trick insists it will
be no different against Watford.
“We’re on the pitch, we just try to do our job,” Walcott
“When things are going well it’s great, it’s obviously
important for the manager to be there, but he was in the dressing room before
and after the game and during halftime, but we know our jobs."
While Arsenal have every right to feel confident about
extending their unbeaten run in 2017, Watford will arrive low on confidence
after a humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of League One Millwall.
Without a win in seven league games, the last thing
Mazzarri’s side needed was to find themselves on the receiving end of one of
the shocks of the fourth round.
The manager has blamed a lengthy injury list for his side’s
dip in form but was confident following the recent draw at Bournemouth that
with players coming back, there were signs of improvement.
But the Millwall defeat may force a rethink.
“I am very disappointed, angry, disappointed for our fans,”
said Mazzarri, who made a number of changes to his line-up and is under growing
“We conceded a goal when we were pushing, it seemed like we
were never going to conceded but we conceded, disappointing.
“It’s normal that in one game it doesn’t go your way. Now we
have to concentrate on what is to come.
“We still miss some players, this is why we have to change
formation. Now we have 16 games and I want a team that for 16 games fights for
every ball and helps us move up the table.”
Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was stretchered off against Millwall joining Valon Behrami, Roberto Peyreyra, Nordin Amrabat and Isaac Success on the sidelines.