Arsenal squandered a slender one-goal lead in a frantic 20-minute period to lose 2-1 to Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday
The game started slowly for both sides as chances came few and far between for either side. But, just when it was starting to look like the two teams would go into half-time goalless, Arsenal grabbed the lead as Per Mertesacker headed home the opener in his first Premier League start in 532 days.
The visitors then took charge of the proceedings and had two good chances to double their lead and take the game by the scruff of its neck. But, Heurelho Gomes denied Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil to keep his side in the match.
The two saves turned out to be all the more crucial after what happened in the final twenty minutes. The hosts first equalised when a controversial penalty decision went their way, and Troy Deeney made no mistake to convert from the spot.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 14, 2017
The win was then sealed in the dying stages of the match when Tom Cleverley found himself in the right place at the right time to score past Petr Cech. The result saw the Hornets leapfrogging Arsenal into the top 4 as the Gunners remain in search of their first away win of the season. We now run the rule of Arsene Wenger’s men.
Petr Cech: 6/10
Unsurprisingly he failed to save a penalty yet again – it’s 12 out of 12 scored against him at Arsenal now. Towards the end of the match a crazy sequence of events ended with Cleverley scoring past him, and one can’t really fault Cech for conceding that goal. Had very little to do apart from those two moments, and will look on to the next game.
Laurent Koscielny: 7/10
Arsenal fans heaved a huge sigh of relief when he was named on the team sheet, but the end of the match had them worrying about the Frenchman once again. During the match though, Koscielny was his calm and composed self as he stood tall against the threat of Richarlison and helped restrict Watford.
It wasn’t really surprising that the Gunners lost their defensive shape to a great extent after he hobbled off the pitch. Arsenal fans would now be hoping for a quick recovery from their defensive rock, especially at a time when Shkodran Mustafi is sidelined for a considerable period as well.
Per Mertesacker: 7.5/10
Per Mertesacker scores Arsenal’s first Premier League goal away from home this season.
Captain’s contribution. Ⓒ pic.twitter.com/RnSByfeVP1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 14, 2017
A rather surprising inclusion ahead of Rob Holding for many, Mertesacker justified his inclusion by leading from the front for his side on the night. Sure, Arsenal ended up losing the game, but the German defender succeeded in keeping the defensive shape intact for large parts of the match.
A solid performance was also capped off for his first Premier League goal in 1,400 days, but Mertesacker would most likely trade that moment for three points. He is a crucial player in Mustafi’s absence, and will need to keep on producing the goods if Koscielny is sidelined for a while.
Nacho Monreal: 6/10
Perhaps the player of the season so far for Arsenal, Saturday’s performance was rather underwhelming by the lofty standards that Monreal has set for himself during the early stages of the season. The Spaniard lost ten duels on the night, and looked a little tired. A midweek rest could come in handy, but it’s unsure if that is an option right now.
Hector Bellerin: 7/10
One of the better performers for Arsenal on the night, Bellerin negated Richarlison’s threat superbly for the most part, but was immensely unlucky to have a soft call go against him when the Brazilian seemed to have made the most of a contentious situation.
🎙 @DesKellyBTS: “Hector Bellerin is sure it wasn’t a foul…”
Deeney: “He had his long hair in the way, he couldn’t see what he’s doing.” pic.twitter.com/oVYmqStLpC
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) October 14, 2017
That moment apart, Bellerin was a solid customer at the back and was a big threat while marauding down the right flank. His crossing is improving while the Spaniard also seems to be rediscovering his pacy outlet with each passing game. Should let the penalty call drift by and concentrate on the positives.
Mohamed Elneny: 5.5/10
Effective and uncompromising in whatever is asked from him on the pitch, but Arsenal need more than what Elneny has on offer. The Egyptian does keep the game ticking, but someone like Jack Wilshere would have been the kind of player who might have brought Alexandre Lacazette into the game more.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
In what is starting to become a pattern from Xhaka this season, he started the game strongly and looked confident and fluent while spraying the ball in the first half, while also providing the beautifully pinpoint assist for Mertesacker’s goal.
But, the Swiss slowly drifted out of the game as the minutes progressed, passing the ball sloppily and was guilty of being a spectator as Tom Cleverley scored the winner.
Sead Kolasinac: 6/10
Solid at the back for the most part, but Kolsinac perhaps could have been present inside the box to add pressure on the Watford attack when they grabbed the winner instead. In the final third, he wasn’t his usual influential self as the cutting edge seemed to be missing. One rare underwhelming outing from the Bosnian.
Alex Iwobi: 7/10
Arsenal’s brightest spark in attack for large parts of the game, and his energetic performance is quite promising as he seems to be getting better with each outing. Denied a goal in the second half by Gomes, and he could have also had an assist had Mesut Ozil taken a better shot from his through ball.
Danny Welbeck: 7/10
A sight for sore eyes as Danny Welbeck goes off injured. pic.twitter.com/h89cvy4MEv
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) October 14, 2017
A solid performance from Welbeck as he made his first appearance in a month, Welbeck passed the ball around well while also making some threatening runs into the box. But, another injury spelled the end of his involvement in the game, and it looks like the Englishman is set for another long layoff.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6.5/10
A decent outing from the Frenchman, but one in which he found himself isolated more than he would have liked. But, while he was good in setting up play whenever he got the chance, his decision making on the ball needs some work as he continues to look to break his away scoring duck.
Mesut Ozil: 5.5/10
Changed the tempo of the game when he was introduced in the second half as he made a few incisive passes. But, he should have done better when Iwobi set him up, and the miss turned out to be costly.
Olivier Giroud: 5/10
Couldn’t make a lot of impact apart from grabbing one headed opportunity.
Rob Holding: N/A
A surprise substitution due to Koscielny’s injury, Holding was largely solid, but should have done better for Watford’s winner.