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Confirmed Arsenal XI vs Watford: Arteta changes system as Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette start

Mikel Arteta appears to have returned to his favoured back four as he makes three changes to the side that lost to Aston Villa.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kieran Tierney appear set to start at full-back with a midfield three of Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe all start.

The former is chasing the Golden Boot but needs three to match Jamie Vardy’s tally of 23 this season.

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Arteta will be preparing for Saturday’s FA Cup Final without several regular first team players, most notably Shkodran Mustafi, ruled out for the final three games of the season with the hamstring injury he suffered in the semi-final win over Manchester City.

Bernd Leno (knee) was not available for Watford’s visit but will return to full training next week.

Despite the clash with Chelsea taking priority Arteta had indicated that he would name a sufficiently strong side to ensure that Watford’s relegation rivals were not disadvantaged.

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“I am going to assess the squad, how they’re feeling, how everyone has recovered and ideally I want to play as strong a team as I can,” he said. “We have to respect that there are a few teams in a relegation battle and we are responsible for that as well.

“That’s the way we will prepare the game that’s for sure, we need to know the responsibility we have towards the other clubs and the responsibility we have wearing the shirt in any game. It has to be to win the football game and prepare so if mentally you are not ready, or your level of dedication is not 100 per cent, then you have a problem.

“A strong side doesn’t mean that players that have played less will not participate. For me, it’s more about how we approach the game and how we go into that game to win the game.”

Arsenal are also without long-term injury absentees Pablo Mari (left ankle), Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli (both left knee).

Arsenal XI: Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka, Willock; Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.