Arsenal 1-0 Watford: 5 Talking Points | EPL 2021/22

Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run to 10 games
Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run to 10 games
Arsenal Presser

In Sunday’s early kick-off, two teams on the opposing spectrum of the table battled in front of a jam-packed Emirates. Mikel Arteta knew a win would take Arsenal to within six points of Chelsea. For Watford, victory would take them five points clear of the relegation zone.

The game started frantically with the Gunners having an early goal disallowed for offside. If that weren’t enough, just before halftime Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had his penalty saved by Ben Foster.

Arsenal v Watford - Premier League
Arsenal v Watford - Premier League

Arsenal eventually broke the deadlock in the 56th minute with an Emile Smith-Rowe strike from the edge of the box. The win firmly places Arsenal in the title race and leaves Claudio Ranieri's side with a mountain to climb.

Here are five talking points from Arsenal 1-0 Watford.

#5 Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ Remontada

Arsenal did not miss Thomas Partey's presence in midfield due to Ainsley's combative perforamnce
Arsenal did not miss Thomas Partey's presence in midfield due to Ainsley's combative perforamnce

In the summer, Ainsley Maitland-Niles made a heartfelt plea via his Instagram account to anyone who would listen. He begged for the club to either give him an opportunity or let him go to a club that will. It’s rumored that Mikel Arteta was furious with the outburst and the two had showdown talks at London Colney that very day. Since then, the 24-year-old has featured in ten games this season, playing 437 minutes of football.

Have no fear, the N7 Modric is here.

Today, with Thomas Partey out with a groin injury, the N7 Modric displayed his best performance. In a man of the match display, Maitland-Niles completed 100% of his take-ons, 85% of his passes, won 7 duels, made 5 tackles, and created 1 chance.

#4 It won’t get easier for The Hornets

Can Claudio Ranieri keep Watford up?
Can Claudio Ranieri keep Watford up?

Having only won three games this season, it’s hard to say with confidence that Watford will avoid the drop this season. With a -10-goal difference and only 10 points in 11 games, Claudio Ranieri has an incredibly tough job on his hands.

A moment of silence for Watford rq 🤲🏻

And unfortunately for him, life will not get any easier in the short term. Watford’s next four games in the league are Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea & Manchester City. When it rains, it pours.

#3 Nuno Tavares continues to impress

Nuno Tavares has started 5 games for Arsenal this season
Nuno Tavares has started 5 games for Arsenal this season

Coming into the game, a lot was made of Kieran Tierney’s return to the squad. The Scotsman has been Arsenal’s starting left-back for the past couple of seasons with no real competition. That was the case until this summer when Nuno Tavares was bought for a measly £6.8m. Granted, at the time nobody believed he would challenge Tierney for his spot but where there are injuries, there are opportunities. Nuno Tavares has taken his.

If Tierney's fit, who starts today?

In Tierney’s absence, Tavares has been a breath of fresh air down the left-hand side. His exuberance, energy and unpredictability have made him a useful asset in Arsenal’s attacking transitions. Mikel Arteta finally has two competent left-backs and the competition between them will only breed excellence.

#2 Does Lacazette deserve a contract extension?

Alexandre Lacazette's future currently hangs in the balance.
Alexandre Lacazette's future currently hangs in the balance.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better professional in modern football than Alexandre Lacazette. Despite being relegated to the bench and out of Mikel Arteta’s plans, the Frenchman has upheld professional integrity to the highest order.

Whenever given a chance to play, the 30-year-old has pressed from the front, won fouls and linked play exceptionally. His energy and work rate has inspired those around him to follow suit, transferring a mentality shift across the team.

Most goals all competitions under Mikel Arteta:38 Aubameyang26 Lacazette21 Pepe12 Nketiah11 Saka8 Smith Rowe4 Martinelli, Gabriel, Willock

Mikel Arteta has instilled an atmosphere of competition in the dressing room where regardless of status, price tag or salary, you will have to work for your place. Lacazette, someone who’s not been offered a new contract, is keeping the club’s star creative signing Martin Ødegaard on the bench. Now, this begs the question - should the Frenchman be rewarded with a new contract for his performances on the pitch?

#1 Emile Smith-Rowe is England’s most in-form player

Is ESR the best young talent in the league?
Is ESR the best young talent in the league?

It’s simply laughable that Emile Smith-Rowe wasn’t called up to Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad. Last month, the England manager said the youngster was close to getting a call-up and would be monitored accordingly. Since then, Smith-Rowe has scored three goals and provided one assist, making him the hottest young talent in the Premier League today.

Emile Smith Rowe is the best player with low socks in the league btw. Nome of this Grealish nonsense

So far this season, the 21-year-old has had six goal involvements in 11 PL appearances, averaging a goal or assist every 148 minutes. In comparison, £100m man Jack Grealish has only produced three-goal involvements. Emile Smith-Rowe is knocking on the door and when he eventually breaks it down, there will be no stopping him.

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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