Unfortunately, Arséne Wenger’s away curse continued, as his side yet again failed to register a win away from the Emirates despite having played eight matches so far. The Hornets edged the Londoners by a goal in stoppage time to claim their first home victory against them in 30 long years.
Per Mertesacker gave his side a rather early lead through a corner whipped in by Granit Xhaka. However, Watford assumed control in the second half and managed to equalise through a Troy Deeney penalty, and eventually won the match thanks to a late winner from Tom Cleverley.
Though the match only entertained one side of the fanbase, we take a look at key topics and moments that transpired which are worth analysing. Here are the five talking points from the match:
5. Arsenal’s away record this season
Is it even a surprise that this is the first topic to be discussed? It is already halfway through October, and yet the Gunners have failed to grab 3 points away from home every single time this season.
The 2017/18 campaign has proven to be one of the worst starts Arsenal have suffered in a long time, and there seems to be no solution to the problem. So far, Wenger’s side have only managed to avoid defeat once in an away league fixture, which was at Stamford Bridge. And, oddly enough, Arsenal scored their first away goal of the season against Watford.
However, the North Londoners did not exactly suffer a poor outing in terms of performance, but rather were stuck by a touch of bad luck due to some questionable refereeing decisions. Nevertheless, Marco Silva’s men were resilient and composed, which favoured their win.
4. Arsenal’s dull midfield
Even before the kick-off, much of the Gunners faithful were worried since the starting XI was announced. Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny partnered at central midfield, where as an odd, but familiar pair of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck played behind Alexandre Lacazette as attacking midfielders.
Unfortunately, the Gooners witnessed their pre-match worries become a reality, as Lacazette was yet again stripped of the creativity he needed by Iwobi and Welbeck. Though the pair tried to link up multiple times in order to lay the ball in for the Frenchman, their poor outing led the team nowhere and imposed no threat on a very solid Watford defence.
Later on, just after coming out of injury, Welbeck was yet again subbed off due to doubts over a potential hamstring injury, and was replaced by Mesut Ozil. The German was rested on the bench in order to ease him back to full match-fitness. Counterintuitively, the moment Ozil stepped onto the pitch, the change in the weight of the match became apparent. However, the midfield maestro’s introduction did too little, and was too late to save his side from defeat.
3. Petr Cech’s awful penalty record
At this point, Petr Cech seems to have been a victim of the penalty curse. Since arriving at the English capital, the former Chelsea keeper has failed to keep out a single spot-kick, which have tallied up to embarrassing figures. Though no one would be critical enough to doubt Cech’s quality’s, his penalty record is certainly something to be worked on.
Furthermore, the Czech international now faces an embarrassing record of conceding more goals as a Gunner than he did during his 11-year career at Chelsea.
2. Watford snatch victory, but with a good deal of luck
‘The Golden Boys’ certainly tested Arsenal’s resolve, and were successful in breaking through it. However, they did so with a touch of good luck and possibly questionable decisions from the referee.
At the 70 minute mark, a quick counter attack by Watford led to a penalty shout following a tug between Hector Bellerin and Richarlison, which was quickly awarded by Neil Swarbrick. Ironically, though, it came as a surprise for even Bellerin, who apparently made no contact with the Brazilian.
And that is exactly what replays revealed. Though the young Spaniard failed to win the ball, the only contact he had with the Watford youngster was a brush of their thighs. Nevertheless, the new arrival was quick to go down theatrically, and earned a spot-kick. Skipper Deeney stepped up and successfully capitalised on the opportunity, leveling the score.
Eventually, Cleverley would fire his side to victory thanks a defensive error by Mertesacker. Though the goal had a hint of offside, it would’ve been impossible for the linesman to spot among the crowd of players.
1. Marco Silva’s appointment plus Richalison’s arrival equals success
The Portuguese has impressed during his 9-month spell in England, and has maintained that impression at the Vicarage Road as well.
Silva has managed to organise the offensive and defensive aspect of his side, which has proven to be a formula for success so far. Under the former Hull City boss, the Hornets are enjoying their history’s best start to a league campaign.
Further, the Watford tactician has also found a great talent in Richarlison, who was instrumental in their win against Wenger’s men. The youngster’s £11 million arrival in today’s inflated transfer market seems like a steal now. Silva’s side currently sits above Arsenal at the fourth position on the league table, also ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea.
At the end of the day, nothing can be taken away from the ‘Orns, who displayed quality defending as well as effective attacking plays that eventually resulted in their win. Meanwhile, the Gunners head to their Europa League clash against Red Star Belgrade, which unfortunately happens to be an away match.
Written by Ashish Sreejith
Have had two addictions in life- playing football and watching football. Usually described as introverted but not when it comes to speaking and writing about the beautiful game of football.