The Nigeria international’s return from suspension could cause the Gunners problems in defence.
Watford boss Claudio Ranieri has talked up the ability of attacker Emmanuel Dennis ahead of the Hornets’ Premier League trip to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The 23-year-old was conspicuous by his absence for last weekend’s defeat at the hands of Southampton, serving a one-game ban for an accumulation of five yellow cards in league play this season.
Dennis has been an instant hit at Vicarage Road since joining in the summer from Belgian side Club Brugge. The Nigeria international scored on his debut on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa, and came off the bench to lead a stirring turnaround against Everton in his last league appearance. In 26 minutes, he scored once and assisted two more to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 win at Goodison Park.
That result, coming in Ranieri’s second match in charge since taking the managerial reins from former coach Xisco Nadal, gave the Italian a unique insight into the forward’s gifts. With a relegation battle set to rumble all season long, the former Leicester City manager, who won the league with the Foxes in unprecedented fashion in 2016, believes Dennis will be key to the club’s aspirations.
“He is a very good talented player, he’s fast, good skill, he always goes straight away to the goal, I love this type of player,” Ranieri said of the forward.
His return could not have come in a more opportune moment. Watford make the short trip to face Arsenal on a ground where they have not won since 2017. They will come up against an Arsenal side that is high on confidence, having won their last three matches in all competitions. The Gunners have also not lost in nine matches, and have surged up the league table since their 5-0 humbling at Manchester City back in late August.
Ranieri however believes Dennis could prove decisive in upsetting the form book and returning Watford to winning ways.
“Of course I missed him (Dennis) in the Southampton match, and I think he can do a very good job against Arsenal,” said the 70-year-old.
A strong performance from Dennis against a ‘Big Six’ side would go some way toward winning over Super Eagles selectors. The forward has been ignored by Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr since last November’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying double-header against Sierra Leone, where he played six minutes as a substitute.