Arsenal’s title hopes suffered a massive blow as they slumped to an embarrassing 1-2 defeat at the Emirates Stadium to Watford. With Arsene Wenger watching the match from the stands as he was handed a four-match touchline ban, Arsenal had a disastrous first half. It took only ten minutes for the Hornets to draw first blood as Younes Kaboul’s free-kick found the back of the net after being deflected off Aaron Ramsey.Just a few minutes later, Etienne Capoue dodged Francis Coquelin and Shkodran Mustafi and took a shot at goal. His shot was somehow blocked by Petr Cech only for Troy Deeney to provide a gentle tap-in to double Watford’s lead. To make matters worse, Aaron Ramsey left the field injured which was followed by Nacho Monreal being booked for a desperate and unnecessary dive in the penalty area.Arsenal had a few scoring chances with substitute Theo Walcott seeing his first attempt go wide and his second being saved. Arsenal however, managed to score as Alexis Sanchez’s cross found Alex Iwobi who guided the ball to the back of the net. The Gunners had a brilliant chance to equalise the match through Lucas Perez only for the Spaniard to see his shot crashing off the bar.In the end, it was a well-deserved win for a resilient Watford and a very dismal performance for the Gunners who stand third in the table, nine points behind leaders Chelsea.Let’s take a look at how the players from both teams fared throughout the match.
Petr Cech: 6/10Frankly speaking, the veteran Czech cannot be blamed for the first goal conceded by Arsenal as it was triggered by a deflection from Aaron Ramsey which wrong-footed him. Cech couldn’t hold on to Etienne Capoue’s shot and his block took the ball towards Troy Deeney who scored from the rebound. Cech did manage to pull off a couple of decent reflex saves later in the match.Gabriel Paulista: 4.5/10
The Brazilian had a disastrous outing, both in defence as well as in offence. His game looked very much offbeat and the Watford players cashed on this with full effect. His offensive contribution was almost negligible as he could not generate any attacks from behind. He was booked in the 21st minute and hardly did anythig to justify his selection ahead of Hector BellerinLaurent Koscielny: 5/10Koscielny endured a very disappointing outing as he made a number of errors in possession and ball clearance throughout the match and lacked coordination with the other defenders. One of the more disastrous performances from the French central defender this season.Shkodran Mustafi: 5/10The German centre-back had a very disappointing outing at central defence and like his partner Koscielny, he too made a number of defensive errors and these errors paved the way for Watford to score two goals. Mustafi will have to work on his coordination with Koscielny at central defence ahead of Arsenal’s clash against Chelsea.Nacho Monreal: 4.5/10His poor form at the left flank continued as he wasn’t very convincing in defence. He wasn’t any good offensively either and was booked for diving in the Watford penalty area. If these performances persist, then it’s only a matter of time before the Spaniard is relegated to the bench.Francis Coquelin: 4.5/10His mistimed passing of the ball was one of the reasons why Arsenal suffered the embarrassing defeat. There were a number of occasions when he needed to keep the ball to himself but he simply passed the ball which spoiled the flow of Arsenal’s game. Was not able to shield the backline either.Aaron Ramsey: 2/10Could not justify his selection ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who performed brilliantly in the 5-0 drubbing of Southampton last weekend. His deflection from Younes Kaboul’s led to the opening goal and he could not contain Etienne Capoue during his run which led to Watford’s second goal. To make matters worse for himself, he was subbed off in the 19th minute due to an injury which could keep him sidelined for a good period of time.Alex Iwobi: 7/10
Had a dismal performance in the first half but improved significantly during the second half as he scored Arsenal’s solitary goal which brought them back in the match. However, the Nigerian could not contribute much later as he was subbed off for Lucas Perez.Alexis Sanchez: 6.5/10His pin-point accurate cross found Alex Iwobi who scored Arsenal’s only goal but barring that, the highly rated Chilean could not contribute more significantly. He lacked the finishing ability throughout the match and will have to better his game if Arsenal have to come back into the title race.Mesut Ozil: 4.5/10Despite being rested during the weekend drubbing of Southampton, Ozil looked like a weakling on the field against Watford as he was far from his best, especially during the first half. He hardly provided any sort of assistance to the other Arsenal attackers. This kind of performance won’t help Arsenal when they take on table-toppers Chelsea three days later.Olivier Giroud: 4/10Giroud was immensely disappointing during the first half as he was far from finding the net due to the physicality of the Watford defenders and couldn’t provide any of the single-touch passes or be an aerial threat. He was eventually substituted by Theo Walcott at half-time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5/10Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Aaron Ramsey in the 20th minute and was expected to bring Arsenal back in the game after his brilliant performance against Southampton last weekend. However, he was far from replicating that performance and was just a passer-by in the second half when the Gunners tried to make their way back into the game.Lucas Perez- 5.5/10The Spaniard replaced goalscorer Alex Iwobi in the 67th minute and nearly equalized for Arsenal, only for his shot to hit the bar.Theo Walcott: 5.5/10
Replaced Olivier Giroud at half-time and was working tirelessly throughout the second half but with no end product. He had two shots on goal; one of which went wide and the other being saved by Watford custodian Heurelho Gomes.
Heurelho Gomes: 8/10
The former Tottenham shot-stopper had a good time between the sticks and made a few crucial and incredible saves. Gomes’ presence at goal will be crucial for Watford if they are to end the season in the Top 10.Craig Cathcart: 5/10Had little to offer during the first half and was struggling during the second half when Arsenal were in complete attacking mode. Could not hold off Iwobi in the build-up to the second goal.Miguel Britos: 6/10He was very effective during the first half and hardly allowed any of the Arsenal attackers to pose much of a threat. However, did not have a very easy time on the flank during the second half as Arsenal pulled a goal back and were close to levelling the match during the final minutes of the game, only for Lucas Perez’s shot to bounce off the crossbar.Younes Kaboul: 8/10Had a brilliant outing and scored the opening goal of the match through a free-kick which was deflected in by Aaron Ramsey. His physicality was crucial in limiting Arsenal’s shots on goal.Sebastian Prodl: 7/10The Austrian defender was agile and alert right from the very first minute of the match and made some crucial tackles and interceptions throughout the game. Prodl’s presence at the back was a real pain in the stomach for Olivier Giroud who could not make any impact up front.Daryl Janmaat: 7/10Was brilliant on the right wing and provided a lot of depth to the flank by generating attacks through his runs. He was always the first one to cash in on the gaps left by Arsenal on the flank and had a shot on goal which was saved by Cech.Tom Cleverley: 6/10His coordination with the midfielders throughout the first half made the situation difficult for the Gunners. However, he had a much-subdued performance in the second half.Valon Behrami: 5.5/10Like most of the Watford players, Behrami looked good during the first half but looked exhausted during the second half which may have been one of the reasons Arsenal had so many shots in goal during the second half.Etienne Capoue: 8.5/10
The star of the match without a shadow of a doubt. Capoue looked brilliant through the entirety of the match and made a number of tireless runs throughout the match. One such run provided Watford its second goal of the match which eventually turned out to be the winner.M’Baye Niang: 7/10The French midfielder who’s on loan from AC Milan, had a very positive debut for the Hornets as he was brilliant on the left flank and was always looking to generate attacks. His tireless runs down the flank was a real headache for Arsenal.Troy Deeney: 7.5/10
The Watford skipper scored the deciding goal of the match in the 13th minute after Etienne Capoue’s shot bounced off Petr Cech to his feet. He had a very positive match and kept on troubling the Arsenal defenders. His presence up front will be very crucial for Watford in their remaining games.
Abdoulaye Doucoure: 5/10Came on for Valon Behrami in the 63rd minute but did not have much to offerIsaac Success Ajayi: NAHe came on for debutant M’Baye Niang in the 70th minuteStefano Okaka: NAReplaced captain Troy Deeney in the 85th minute