It’s the same old story again for Arsenal as we missed the chance to close the gap on Chelsea at the top last night after a surprising defeat to Watford. Fans will argue that the result isn’t that surprising as similar results have happened for quite a few years now at this point in the season and we simply have to be beating teams like Watford at home!
Even by our standards in terms of under performing at times the first half performance was one of the worst I have ever seen and we left ourselves with everything to do in the end. Credit to Watford for the way they played in the first half as well though, we just couldn’t cope or didn’t expect it which is unacceptable at this level. Niang, (on loan from AC Milan) who was making his debut caused us all sorts of problems defensively.
First of all I didn’t like the team selection from Wenger (who once again had to watch the game in the stands). Even with the Chelsea game on Saturday I would have started Bellerin instead of makeshift right back Gabriel, definitely the Ox (who fortunately came on early to replace an injured Ramsey who was very poor) instead of Ramsey or Coquelin following his performance in the FA cup and similarly Walcott as he scored a hat trick. I would have also had Welbeck at least on the bench to come on but he was nowhere to be seen.
I must admit I would have started Giroud as he was still in form and confident but he wasn’t in the game at all in first half and was rightfully substituted and replaced by Walcott at half time. Lucas Perez was also rightfully put on for Coquelin in the second half but the damage had already been done.
With the rain heavily falling (which summed up the game) and after a chaotic train journey that made us miss the first five minutes of the game (what a day it was), it took Watford just 10 minutes to open the scoring through a deflected free kick from ex Spurs defender Kaboul to make matters worse. The deflection came off Ramsey which summed up his short appearance and Cech was wrong footed. It was only 1-0 though we would come back surely?
No, three minutes later Watford struck again and another ex Spurs player was involved as Capoue ran past our defence including Mustafi (who finally lost his first league game at the club) with ease before forcing a good save from Cech but knowing our luck it fell straight to captain Deeney who tapped it in to make it 2-0. Both of their goals were fortunate but you can’t complain as they deserved it and could have scored more.
We barely created anything as Watford defended very well in numbers as expected and the home fans got more and more frustrated as the half went on. Monreal got booked for diving which showed how desperate we were getting and Cech had to also keep us in the game with some saves. A lot of passes went astray and players were falling over everywhere and I did wonder if the weather affected them but you can’t use that as an excuse as they should be used to it in England!
So the first half ended 2-0 and was greeted by boos and we had it all to do in the second half. After a quick break where I had to basically down a cider the game started again and Arsenal already looked better within the first few minutes. Substitute Walcott made an instant impact and had a decent effort on goal before having another one saved by another ex Spurs player Gomes (who has a massive throw by the way) early on and this got the crowd going. This was amazingly our first shot on target and was followed by another save to deny Iwobi from close range.
We threw everything at them creating more chances and arguably should have had a penalty when Alexis Sanchez went down in the box but this was turned down. This didn’t stop Alexis though as he set up Iwobi as his cross was steered in by the youngster to give us some hope.
Lucas Perez also made an instant impact when he came on as he smashed a shot against the crossbar and it was at this point where I thought it wasn’t going to be our day!
We have been fortunate late on in games to get results this season but not in this game as unfortunately we just couldn’t find the equaliser and Watford got an important win for them. It was nice for them as well to win a day before Graham Taylor’s funeral and they said the result was for him.
As for us though it was a shock defeat and a damaging one as well as we missed a great chance to gain points on rivals as Liverpool drew to leaders Chelsea and Spurs lost two points against bottom side Sunderland. The only positive was that at least Arsenal Fan TV would be good but even that is getting predictable now because of similar results and performances in recent seasons.
The result means we are now 9 points behind Chelsea who we face on Saturday and this game is now a must win if we are to have any chance of winning the title this season. I think we can do it but it depends what Arsenal turns up!
Will we do it? Is this season any different to recent years? What will happen if we don’t win this season?