Hornets late sting on Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Rock bottom Watford, re-appointed their former manager Quique Sanchez Flores, with his first game at home to Arsenal. In the sixth minute, Abdoulaye Doucoure teed up Geard Deulofeu, whose snap shot was blocked by Bernd Leno. On the eleventh minute, Etienne Capoue found Tom Cleverley, whose soaring strike, was tipped over by Leno. Another attempt soon followed for Cleverley, but his curling strike was caught by Leno, following an assist by Deulofeu. Then again through Deulofeu in the thirteenth minute, Jose Holebas, miss timed his strike. In the twentieth minute, through a pass from Matteo Guendouzi, a curling strike by Nicolas Pepe, went past the left post. Within a minute, the Gunners delivered the first blow, after Dani Ceballos won the ball with a crunching tackle on Will Hughes, and from a surging run by Sead Kolasinac, the ball was turned into the bottom left corner by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In the thirty second minute, it was double trouble for Watford, as Mesut Ozil dinked the ball forward, and a low cross from Ainsley Maitland-Niles, was converted by Aubameyang, into the middle of the net. Three minutes later, through a Kiko Femenia cross, a miss kick from Hughes, went wide. But Watford were then gifted a chance, as Leno failed in finding Guendouzi, as the ball was lost to Cleverley, before a strike from Deulofeu, was spilled by Leno, and then Andre Gray found the outside netting. Kolasinac later got booked for a clumsy lunge into Hughes, but the free kick from Hoelbas, was caught by Leno, in the forty fourth minute. Before half time, Holebas clashed with Pepe, and as Guendouzi intervened, both he and Holebas were given yellow cards. Two minutes into the second half, Deulofeu’s pass was skied by Hughes. Arsenal responded when Ozil’s pass was cannoned over from Granit Xhaka, in the forty ninth minute. But catastrophic defending by Arsenal let Watford back in, when Leno’s weak kick was lost in possession by Sokratis Papastathopoulos, as he tried to find Guendouzi, and the ball was intercepted from Deulofeu, before Cleverley, turned the ball into the middle of the net, on fifty three minutes. Gray was then replaced with Ismaila Sarr. With renewed hope, Deulofeu curled the ball into the palms of Leno, having been found from Cleverley, in the fifty fifth minute. Following Femenia’s caution for a foul on Ozil, Watford soon threatened again, from an assist by Doucoure, as after Deulofeu turned past Maitland-Niles, he struck a low drive past the right post, in the fifty eighth minute. A minute later, Doucoure played through Femenia, whose shot went too high. Arsenal then switched Ceballos with Joe Willock before the Hornets took off Hughes for Roberto Pereyra. In the sixty fifth minute, Deulofeu put the ball over to Sarr, who twisted his shot past the right post. Within a minute, Femenia’s low cross was back heeled from Pereyra, wide of the mark. The Gunners soon took off Guendouzi for Lucas Torreira, whose first task was to track back and deflect behind a low drive by Deulofeu. Another Arsenal change saw Ozil removed for Reiss Nelson, who made an immediate impact by firing a strike into Foster, after Maitland-Niles had combined with Pepe. Soon afterwards another bending strike by Deulofeu was caught by Leno, through Pereyra’s pass. After a caution for Leno, Watford took off Holebas for Daryl Janmaat. In the seventy ninth minute, Torreira’s snap shot was kept out by Foster. But Watford were awarded a penalty for a reckless challenge by Luiz on Pereyra, who stepped up to strike the spot kick, into the bottom left corner, on eighty one minutes. Watford pressed again as Pereyra supplied Cleverley, and as the ball defected off Torreira, it was put wide from Deulofeu. In another Watford move, Cleverley’s fierce strike was blocked by Luiz, before Deulofeu’s corner was punched clear from Leno. In stoppage time, Doucoure linked play with Sarr, but struck the ball into Leno as the game ended 2-2.