Arsenal squandered a two-goal first half lead to allow Watford to come from behind and hold them to a 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
It was not the classic ‘tale of two halves’. Instead, the story’s climax was Arsenal’s own making. Much like how Tottenham conceded their two-goal advantage over Arsenal, the Gunners returned the favour to Watford after a thrilling first half wherein the North Londoners were in total control.
Two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked set to give Arsenal all three points, but Watford had different plans. Fans who saw what happened yesterday would surely look away from this player rating segment, for they know who played in what capacity.
The central defence, yet again, was there to burden the entire team and deprive them of a victory. Sokratis began the trend by gifting the ball to Tom Cleverley, who only had to keep his shot on target and he did. 1-2.
It was then David Luiz’s turn to come to the part and the Brazilian made an unnecessary challenge late in the game to concede the penalty. 2-2. If it was a hard-fought draw, it could have been accepted as bad luck, but the way Watford battered Arsenal in the second half was appalling. The Hornets took an incredible 31 shots against the Gunners.
With a positive start to the season fizzling out rather quickly, Arsenal have now fallen down to 7th on the Premier League table. And, The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Unai Emery’s men, following yet another horrendous performance.
Bernd Leno: 7/10
Leno cannot be blamed for the result, because when you are protected by shambolic defenders and the opposition take 31 shots towards yourself, there is little room for complaining. He handled everything that came his way rather well, but could not do anything for either of the goals. His brilliant save at the death to deny Abdoulaye Doucoure earned Arsenal a point instead of losing all three.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 5/10
Sloppy, expensive in possession and asleep for most parts of the game. Starting with the positives, he was well placed to assist Aubameyang for his second. But, on the other end, he was torn a new one by Gerard Deulofeu by the time the game ended. There is no doubt he will not be able to keep his place in the side once Hector Bellerin returns.
There were moments of good defending from the Greek, but when it mattered, he handed things on a plate to Watford. By that, we mean the first Watford goal, all due to Sokratis’s sloppiness in making the pass and most importantly, a wrong decision. Perhaps his worst ever performance in an Arsenal shirt.
David Luiz: 3/10
Why Arsenal signed Luiz is beyond anyone’s understanding at this point. It was a second away game in a row wherein Luiz has been at fault defensively. This time, he conceded a needless penalty and only complimented Sokratis by making his error count as well. Both the centre-backs need to take full responsibility for what happened at Vicarage Road.
Sead Kolasinac: 6/10
The only bright side of Arsenal’s shambolic defence on the evening. Kolasinac defended well and was a threat going forward. He did nothing wrong on his side of the pitch to be blamed for anything. His awareness led to Arsenal’s opening goal when he broke free and fed Aubameyang.
Matteo Guendouzi: 5/10
A game to forget for Guendouzi on so many levels. His recent surge in form was nowhere to be seen, plus he got dispossessed plenty of times, and in dangerous positions. He tried to make up for it, but the yellow card he incurred in the second half convinced Emery to take him off.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
A tale of two periods if not halves for Xhaka. Still a much better performance from the Swiss in light of his recent displays. Defended well, positioned himself near perfectly and looked like he was having a good game until his ideas stopped working. He looked weary as the clock ticked and in that period he lost total control of the midfield. But, as we said before, it was a better performance.
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Another twist and turn performance from Ceballos, who brought in some much-needed energy in the Arsenal midfield. The Spaniard defended quite well too, and his awareness to challenge and free Kolasinac for the opening goal was brilliant. An inexplicable decision by Emery to take him off when Arsenal needed his creativity and drive on the pitch to protect their lead.
Mesut Ozil: 6/10
A decent display by Ozil on his first game for Arsenal this season. There were many flaws in his game, like losing possession and positional problems. But, that pass to Maitland-Niles for the second goal was just something only he is capable of doing. Was rightly taken off when he started losing relevance at a time Arsenal did not have the ball.
Nicolas Pepe: 6/10
A very single-track display, but Pepe tried hard to make things happen in the final third. There are still some issues in his game like his over-dependence on the left foot or even his heavy first touches, but there are indications he’ll come through. Pepe made one great pass only for Nelson to shoot straight at the keeper.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 8.5/10
Despite the two good goals that he scored, fans felt terrible for him. The fact that he had put Arsenal in a commanding position before the defence disappointed in protecting that lead added to his frustrations. That he takes his chances brilliantly and converts them into something valuable has to be given due credit.
Lucas Torreira: 5/10
At the time of his arrival, it felt like the right thing to do for protecting the lead. He tried his way, but Arsenal were unable to defend their lead.
Reiss Nelson: 5/10
Came on for Ozil and could have made his opportunity count as he found himself in positions to break, but he gave the ball away on each occasion. Has a lot to do to be convincing enough to start a game again.
Joe Willock: 5/10
The talent is undoubtedly there, but bringing Willock on in place of Ceballos seemed like a poorly advised decision. Still, to his credit, he tried, but on Emery’s part, it was a terrible decision that perhaps cost Arsenal three points.