Arsenal wasted another opportunity to close the gap on their adversaries as they were undone by a brilliant Watford performance.
Playing at home, no one expected the Gunners to have trouble as Watford have been in poor form this season and have been struggling especially in recent times. However, Arsenal have a reputation for starting games in weak fashion and did so once again last night.
Goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney ensured the Gunners were down 0-2 within 14 minutes and Arsenal once again had a mountain to climb if they wanted to win. Speaking after the game, Arsene Wenger bemoaned their poor start while defending Gabriel.
“It was not good in the first half, especially in the first 20 minutes. We were beaten in the duels, they were sharper than us and on top of that we were a bit unlucky because I felt we were unlucky to concede a free-kick and then it was deflected too.”
“ After that we responded. We didn’t start the way we wanted, in the second half it was all us, and we were unlucky to lose the game as well. We did not deserve to lose this game,” he said, according to the club’s official website.
” We knew that their main danger was from set-pieces and every time Gabriel has played recently, he has done extremely well in this position. I don’t think he was at fault for any of the goals. You have to look somewhere else.”
Boos rang out at the Emirates at the end of the first half and Arsenal fans were visibly angered at yet another early capitulation. It was a feeling of deja vu for any of the Arsenal fans that traveled for Arsenal’s 3-3 draw at Bournemouth although there was some cheer at the end of that game because of the nature of the comeback.
There was more worrying news on the night as Aaron Ramsey – who looked abject before his withdrawal – was taken off with what Wenger later confirmed was a calf strain. After the game, it was reported that Francis Coquelin was also carrying a hamstring injury.
This is a big blow to Arsenal ahead of an all-important fixture against Chelsea and with Bayern also looming. It leaves the Gunners completely light in midfield with Santi Cazorla still uncertain to play again this season, Xhaka still suspended for 2 more games and Mohamed Elneny still with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations.
Despite the encouraging second half performance from Arsenal, it will do little to assuage the rage that was visible at Emirates. Arsenal fans already look agitated and more results like this could quickly turn the environment hostile for the rest of the season as the protests against Arsene Wenger grow.