Arsenal traveled to Vicarge Road on Sunday to take on a Hornets side looking for their first win of the year. Arsenal’s lineup featured Mesut Özil for the first time this season, who made up a mouth watering front 4 of Pepe, Aubameyang, Özil, and Ceballos. Could Arsenal take all three points for the second time in three away games this season?
Watford’s new manager Quique Sánchez Flores had his side looking quite lethal in the opening 15 minutes of the game. Arsenal struggled to get more than four or five passes together as the Hornets had multiple chances at the start of the game. Leno stopping a blistering Tom Cleverley shot from 25 yards was the closest the Hornets got during that time.
But then Arsenal got things going. On the 22nd minute Ceballos did great to press with Kolasinac and win the ball back in the midfield. While the Watford players complained, the Bosnian made a trademark driving run down the left side. He found an easy pass to Aubamayeng who made a fantastic first touch flick and volley into the bottom corner past Foster. 1-0 to Arsenal, and a fantastic goal from the Gabon international. Video:
Aubameyang!— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 15, 2019
1-0 Arsenal pic.twitter.com/0ZoNJCvu5D
But Arsenal weren’t done yet. The second goal was an absolute mastery from Arsenal, which saw a season high 20(!) passes leading to a goal. The real killer part of the build-up was a Ceballos pass to Özil, who made a sublime through ball to Ainsley Maitland-Niles past the defense. AMN passed an easy cross straight to the foot of Aubameyang, who slotted in his second of the game past Ben Foster. It was truly beautiful. Video:
You love to see it pic.twitter.com/tzad0n9OQp— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 15, 2019
Beyond the goal scoring, it was a frustrating half from Arsenal’s defense. The Gunners were lucky to go into the half up 2-0 after multiple chances were bottled by Watford.
It was a story of two halves though.
Arsenal got off to a nervy start of the half. Passing out the back cost the Gunners eight minutes after the half time break. Emery’s commitment to passing out the back costs the Gunners again, as Sokratis made a pass right to the foot of a Watford attack. The ball was deflected and Cleverley had an easy shot at the top of the box to bring Watford back to 2-1. I would find it hard to find an Arsenal fan who still believes passing out of the back works. Video:
It went from in control to very worrying after the Watford goal. Watford kept pressing and there was one or two good chances from Deulofeu in the minutes following. Ismaila Sarr went just wide as well on a good opportunity in the 65th minute after he was subbed on. Reiss Nelson, Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock’s substitutions did little to impose any threat on the game as Arsenal attempted to close the game out.
It was only a matter of time before it caught up to Arsenal. In the 79th minute David Luiz made a dumb error to cost Arsenal a penalty. Pereyra slotted it home to the left and it was 2-2. Arsenal were completely flipped onto their heads.
Vicarage Road is BUZZING pic.twitter.com/eazYtaeulU— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 15, 2019
Watford had a chance to take all 3 points in the final seconds of the game, when Deulofeu crossed the ball to Doucoure who had a open goal mouth. Leno made an amazing save coming back across the goal to save the points.
Arsenal went from a secured three points to one point in the matter of 33 minutes. It was a frustrating day at Vicarage Road as Arsenal gave away a chance at moving third in the table. Emery’s team was completely dominated in terms of shots (31-7). Embarrassing that the Gunners let the team at the bottom of the table steal the result back.
The defense will have to figure itself out if Arsenal want to get back to Champions League football. Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, and Rob Holding cannot come back soon enough for a side whose defense keeps them from finishing off games with all three points. A disappointing result to say the least.