In a day where Liverpool hosted Chelsea, it was an opportunity to gain points on their rivals, but couldn’t take that opportunity, falling to a 2-1 defeat at home to Watford.
Arsenal started the game slowly and Watford made them pay. With 10 minutes played, Watford were 1-0 up. Younes Kaboul’s free-kick was deflected in off Aaron Ramsey to give the Hornets the lead.
Arsenal were 2-0 down a few minutes later when Troy Deeney pounced on a rebound and slotted past Petr Cech. The Gunners were all over the place and Watford contained them well. The night got even worse when Ramsey went off injured after 20 minutes and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Watford had several chances at 2-0 up as Arsenal struggled to cope with their high pressing. Sebastian Prödl’s header was tipped over the bar by Cech. Daryl Janmaat’s right-footed drive nearly made it three but Cech spared Arsenal’s blushes.
Arsenal had three shots in the first half and not a single one was on target. This was Arsenal’s worst performance since the 2-1 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.
At the start of the second half, Arsenal brought on Theo Walcott in place of Olivier Giroud. The Englishman nearly had an instant impact when he was found by Laurent Koscielny but his shot was just wide. He had another chance just minutes later after a pass from Mesut Ozil but he fired it straight at Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes. There was a much better start to the second half from Arsenal who were putting Watford under a lot of pressure but still no goal.
In the 58th minute Arsenal’s persistence finally paid off. Alexis Sanchez’s chip was met by Alex Iwobi at the far post. The young Nigerian volleyed in from a tight angle to get Arsenal back into the game.
Five minutes later Watford made their first substitution as Abdoulaye Doucouré replaced Valon Behrami. Arsenal’s second substitution was to bring on Lucas Perez for Francis Coquelin.
Watford’s debutant M’Baye Niang was withdrawn after 70 minutes with Isaac Success coming on in his place. Arsenal continued to apply the pressure but they were unable to get that all important second goal.
Captain Troy Deeney was Watford’s final substitution. His replacement was Stefano Okaka.
Lucas Perez had one of Arsenal’s best chances of the second half when his thunderous strike hit the bar.
Watford won the match 2-1. It was a hard fought and well deserved victory for the Hornets who had been on a seven game winless run. Arsenal were very much below par for the whole game. The Gunners face Chelsea on Saturday and based on their performance against Watford, it is hard to see them leaving Stamford Bridge with one point, let alone three.