Arsenal overcame a resilient 10-man Watford side to claim three points in a game where they also kept their first away clean sheet of the season.
The final outcome may have only been decided by a single Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal, but it was Watford who took the charm away, playing with 10 men for over 80 minutes, and yet without showing they had a man less.
The home side went toe-to-toe with Arsenal all throughout the game. However, it was during the 9th minute, due to a blocked clearance from goalkeeper Ben Foster that Aubameyang scored, rather luckily. Within a minute of that goal, Watford captain Troy Deeney was sent off with a straight red card for his deliberate elbow on Lucas Torreira, which ideally should have changed the game in Arsenal’s favour.
Instead, the Gunners needed moments from their defenders to bail them out, although they did keep their first away clean sheet of the season. That win took Arsenal back into the top four and fans will now have to look forward to their team’s away clash at Napoli and hope they get a result there. For now, let’s take a look at how Arsenal’s players fared in their win over Watford.
Bernd Leno: 7/10
An excellent performance from the German goalkeeper. Leno was bothered with more shots from Watford than a ten-man team should. Call it Arsenal’s lack of dominance, or Emery’s fault with tactics, but somehow Leno stood his ground to keep a memorable, yet vital clean sheet for his side.
Shkodran Mustafi: 5.5/10
Fans would be thankful to Mustafi for not committing his typical dreadful mistakes, although he was at hand to produce some error-prone moments in this game as well. Mustafi’s passing was wayward, he was terrible at clearances and the only area he excelled was in winning aerial duels, leading both teams. He did change several positions during the game, but in the end, contributed towards the clean sheet.
Laurent Koscielny: 8/10
Arsenal fans should be thankful for Laurent Koscielny and his professional displays. The Frenchman was at the heart of protecting everything Watford had to throw at them and was a composed figure in the centre of Arsenal’s defence. Ideally, he should have got the man of the match award over Aubameyang.
Konstantinos Mavropanos: 5/10
A surprise selection at the heart of the defence, in what was his first start in the league this season. Barring two shaky moments, Mavropanos did play well. Emery’s decision in the second half to continue the game with three defenders at the back was the reason to sub off Mavropanos, although now Emery has an additional centre-back at his disposal.
Nacho Monreal: 7/10
Reliable, smart and played his defensive game. Monreal was in the thick of the action throughout the game and also helped clear out the danger on a few occasions. His selection at left-back ahead of Sead Kolasinac did pay off and it looks like Emery will use him again in midweek, for Monreal has been performing rather consistently in recent weeks.
Aaron Ramsey: 6/10
Ramsey’s performances in recent games had raised the expectations of him, and he did not deliver on Monday. A slightly different night for the Welshman, who was ineffective in the central attacking midfield position. He lacked the vision and creativity, while it looked like his energy was wasted in that position. Did improve when drafted back to central midfield.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Xhaka was returning from an injury and the rustiness was on display during the game. The midfielder was unable to impose his usual game and lacked defensive awareness all throughout the match. He did improve in the second half, but Watford’s attackers got the better of him.
Lucas Torreira: 5/10
Many were surprised by Emery’s decision to substitute him at half time, but his display was proof the manager was right. Torreira’s notable moment was his involvement in Deeney’s dismissal, but apart from that, he attempted no tackles, made one clearance and offered less control over the midfield.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 5/10
For a wide player, he has decent numbers. But, his wastefulness in front of goal and scuppering of chances were on display. Missed a glorious chance when set up by Iwobi, and he was complacent with his final product. Did create a few opportunities for his teammates, while also playing out of position as a wing-back before being drafted back to his attacking position on the right.
Alex Iwobi: 7/10
Arsenal’s best attacking player on the evening. Iwobi was at the heart of Arsenal’s attack, creating seven chances during the game, the most by any player. The only problems are with his lack of desire at times and bad decision making, which tend to get the better of him. But, his importance in the game cannot be denied for his contributions were immense.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6.5/10
On one hand, Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game, got named Man of the Match. Yet, it could be considered one of those dull performances from the striker. For most parts of the game, he was isolated, had a flawed hold-up play and missed some decent chances which he generally would have converted.
Yet, he showed desire, determination, and willingness, which forced Foster into making the mistake on his clearance and subsequently the goal which helped Arsenal to the much-needed win.
Mesut Ozil: 6.5/10
Ozil’s introduction was vital as he brought calmness on the pitch. The German took up some good positions to help Arsenal pass the ball forward, but he did not do anything spectacular. Good outing for the playmaker.
Matteo Guendouzi: 6/10
Brought his energy out on the field and made some crucial runs. Kept the side’s play ticking and helped immensely in the last few minutes or so.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6/10
Apart from a vital block to deny Andre Gray a clear goalscoring opportunity, Maitland-Niles had a tidy outing from the bench.