Watford 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers


That was a disgrace of a second half by Arsenal and one of the worst 45 minute performances I have ever seen and was statistically the worst of any Arsenal team in the Premier League era. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked after this match (and the overall performances this season) about how to turn this team around.

Watford 2-2 Arsenal: By the graphs

Running xG

xG shot mapRunning Non-Shot xG

Shot Placement xG

Simulated Match Results

Watford 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

8 – Shots for Watford in the first half, 5 on target

3 – Shots for Arsenal in the first half, 2 on target

23 – Shots for Watford in the second half, 5 on target

4 – Shots for Arsenal in the second half, 2 on target

55 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the first half, 5 completed into the box

55 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first half, 4 completed into the box

101 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the second half, 17 completed into the box

28 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first half, 5 completed into the box

26 – Passes completed within 25 meters of goal for Watford, 19 of those in the second half. 7 of those were within 15 meters of goal, all in the second half.

8 – Passes completed within 25 meters of goal for Arsenal, 4 in the second half. 1 of those were within 15 meters of goal, 0 in the second half.

0 – Matches were Arsenal have given up this many shots to another team in the Premier League era.

The capitulation of Arsenal in the second half was unlike anything that I have ever seen before. The raw numbers for the second half alone would be a poor outing for a match overall for a team that has the aspirations of Arsenal. Arsenal allowed 23 shots in the second half, 5 shots on target, 3 big chances and 2.8 xG (2.1 without the penalty). This is another among bad data point to start the season. Arsenal have now allowed 9, 18, 25, 13 and 31 shots in their matches this season, while on offense they have failed to attempt more than 8 shots in 3 of their 5 matches.

Arsenal’s playing out of the back backfires

71.6% – Arsenal’s passing percentage in the deepest 20% of the field, compared to an 83% expected passing percentage.

18 – Defensive actions for Watford in Arsenal’s defensive third, 12 in the second half.

0 – Shots created from goal kicks for Arsenal

7 – Short passes from goal kicks

5 – Medium length passes (15 to 25 meters) passes from goal kicks

4 – Long passes from goal kicks

The new goal kick rule creates interesting tactical tweaks for teams but Arsenal don’t seem to be on the forefront of using the new rule to their advantage. Instead Arsenal seem to have done similar things to last year but now with additional pressure on themselves with the ball staying closer to their own goal. Today it really backfired but it really felt like it was something that was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Even when Arsenal were playing out from the back from regular play, they were pressed effectively by Watford and they struggled to complete passes to progress the ball.

Arsenal lose control on midfield in the second half

6 – Final third entry passes for Arsenal in the second half, compared to 16 in the first.

7 – Ball recoveries for Arsenal’s group of midfielders (Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos and Willock) in the second half, Watford’s double pivot of Doucoure and Capoue had 13.

4 – Times dispossessed by the Arsenal midifielders, 0 for Watford’s two.

1 – Interception by the Arsenal midifielders, 1 for Watford’s two.

1 – Tackle by the Arsenal midifielders, 6 for Watford’s two.

77% – Pass completion by the Arsenal midifielders, 95% for Watford’s two.

The biggest weakness of this Arsenal team is that the midfield, no matter if they have numerical superiority, just seem to struggle in so many matches to be able to control things and calm down the game when things get stretched. With a two goal lead, Arsenal didn’t need to push the game to create things but sitting back and defending is never going to be Arsenal’s strength. What Arsenal needed, was the ability to hold on to the ball, string together a few passes and push back Watford who had camped out in Arsenal’s half. The technical level of Arsenal’s midfield should have been more than enough to be up to the task but for some reason, either tactical or performance or a combination of the two Arsenal had a midfield that lost the ball and at the same time was too easy to bypass. Its ugly and depressing to see the fall from the not to distant past where Arsenal regularly had the best and most technically proficient midfield in England.


Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database

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Prince Gunner

As and when we thought we have gotten rid of Mustafi. There’s another…

Runcorn Gooner

Why use Sokratis when trying to play from the back. He is a ball winning defender and is unable to do anything positive.

The sooner Emery puts this playing from the back every time the better. Every team we play know we are rubbish at it and target our defenders.


It was like I was watching Barcelona VS Huddersfield, Sorry Watford VS Arsenal U15, I must admit for the first time that Emery can’t get us anywhere, the EPL has overwhelmed him, NO TEAM IDENTITY, after their equalizer Arsenal were just trying to cut a tree with a razor blade. Allegri is still available I believe, we mustn’t wait till it gets so bad.


See, we can’t blame the defenders for making a mistake when they are put under constant threat and pressure for 90 minutes. If Emery’s game plan is to capitulate to the bottom most team even before the game begins, and count on individual brilliance from both defenders and forwards to defend 31 onslaughts without making an error, and convert 25-30% of opportunities consistently, then, I am sorry, it’s stupid. Emery is fit to manage a mid-table team. Oba and Laca saved his ass last season because of their high conversion rates. He’s had 15 months with this team and considerable… Read more »

Reality check

At least it’s getting clearer that Mustafi wasn’t the main problem. This system is built around chaos, no matter who you bring in or take out – this team will implode every now and then. Mustafi’s rash decisions were down to the confusion created by fiddling with the system every week. He looked clueless anf constantly under pressure just like the current defense. Better defenders might do a better job but these players are also capable of much better. Just pick a system and stick with it, let this team settle for once ffs.

Naked Cygan

We were scared of a team sitting bottom of the table who had 30+ attempts on our goal. Are you fking kidding me????
This team is fking joke. An absolute joke, bunch of weak and ameture players who don’t deserve to play for this club. Then we have a manager who want to make the bastard who admits he is scared of Watford our Capitan??? He wants us to play from the back when we are shit and unable to play from the back?? Then he takes of a player because it was too hot??? WTF!!

Naked Cygan

I rather listen to darts on the radio, than watch another fking Arsenal match.


“I rather listen to darts on the radio, than watch another fking Arsenal match.”
Fuck that was funny!


This ‘captain’ should be scared of the fans, not the opposing team! What an idiot of a captain.

Reality check

No one should be scared of anyone in football.

Trex D’ Gunner

Absolutely horrible. #Emeryout

Man Manny

This Arsenal team is like a Pride of lions led by any herbivore of your choice.
We will go nowhere with this erratic, chaotic, fear-instilling average gaffer.

Reality check

Seems like the ‘sleeping it off’ thing didn’t work like it use to in Wenger’s case. We got humiliated many a times, worse than yesterday but we stuck with him. Emery only has a few more games before the booing starts. There is no time to make mistakes and learn at a job like Arsenal, 10s of millions are at stake, fans are hungry and impatient. You win or you die, there is no middle ground 😉


I think the situation is far more urgent than Emery realises. Don’t think we should become the chavs but I think we need to continue being ruthless weeding out incompetents everywhere in the organisation, from the front office to the touchline. I think Emery needs to adapt better. Out of basic fairness and generosity of spirit I gave him a pass last year. This fall, the pressure is on. He has til December. In the meantime: let’s get Hector, Kieran and Robbie back in there and get a solid back 5, 3-5-2, in place. Back 4 isn’t going to work,… Read more »

My Cousin Vinai

What about that stat that arsenal have allowed to most shots against them than any other team in all 5 of the major European leagues?


Bombastic as it sounds, only the Premier League has 5 matches already. Doesn’t change the fact that Arsenal is topping the PL chart on that stat though.

Reality check

Some very glooming stats doing the rounds.. most shots conceded in the top 5 leagues currently, most goals through errors in the PL and most goals conceded through penalties in the PL since last season (via Sky). Change?


Nicolas Pepe reminds me of Yaya Sanogo when he runs with ball at his feet. I hope its just nerves and when he gets his first goal he will settle down and become the player we all hope he will be.


Poor man’s Gervinho.




You mean rich man’s Gervinho surely?


I don’t know what people expect of him… He goes past people all the time, his passing is generally good and he’s creating chances. Yes, he does lose the ball sometimes but so does any player who takes people on.

Ya gooner

Just because he hasn’t scored yet apparently he’s rubbish now. Even though he’s created the most chances for us so far this season.


He teed up Nelson perfectly yesterday, but Nelson basically did a back pass to Watford’s keeper

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

No one rears a cow and expect it to bring forth a lion.. I’m not disappointed in Emery because i know he doesn’t have much in him and he has given his all but I’m disappointed in those arsenal fans that can’t read the signs and want patience..i felt emery will get us top 4 even with his clueless tactics because of Chelsea and man u but with the way Chelsea is improving I’m not sure of the top four anymore…….i would never be patient with Emery…we deserve better…..we would lose our best players if we continue with this coward…..Emery… Read more »


Eddie Howe? What the … not this crap again. Yeah, lets really establish ourselves as a mid-table team. Good idea. At this point, if anyone is going to replace Emery before Christmas, it will be Freddie.

I’ve doubted Emery since he started, and things are only getting worse, but management have to evaluate the situation and decide with their collective footballing brain whether we have a better chance to reach top four persisting with Emery for this season or with someone else — and decide soon.

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

Admin i really don’t know why my comment is always awaiting moderation…do you think that’s fair?…you moderate my comments just because i honestly speak the truth on arsenal matters… Everyone wants it sweet and tasty but sometimes we should be brave to spill it out when it becomes bitter…stoo the moderation and allow me freely speak my mind after all this is why this site was created


I stand with WLODERTWC. This man must be heard!

It’s time blogs stopped running from the truth, hiding behind his big corporate friends, and let the people be heard! I’m sick of his sugar coating and pandering, we need a blogger who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.




Prince Gunner

Maybe the AI detected that your many comments fit into the SPAM category. Since they are very repetitive and full of hate.


What a depressing read this was. I’m not exactly sure how much difference Holding and Chambers would make either. The system seems flawed.


The system is flawed, but I think Emery has to start giving starts to players who have not given away a goal directly from a stupid mistake in our last game. That might send an uncomplicated and not incomprehensible message to our players about being the right kind of protagonist in the grand Arsenal narrative.


I think one more game and we won’t have anymore centre backs to start then


An interesting thing I noticed about our passing out the back is how predictable our direction is, we only seem to pass it out towards the right, maybe Emery instructed them to because he feel Kolasinac is too limited technically to play out the back, but Watford caught on the this and could easily squeeze us, if we want to play that way, we need more variety and less predictability.

Michael Bolton Wanderers

It’s almost funny because AMN is the kind of player who gives the ball away with poor passing at least a couple of times each match. Sometimes he just fumbles the ball. (Or so it seems) Yesterday a pattern was Leno to sokratis to AMN to Pepe, and somewhere along this line we lost the ball. Yet we kept on doing it over and over. I was surprised the players didn’t ignore their managers orders and just went with a long ball. If your gonna lose the ball at least do it in their half. Jeez. Where was the winning… Read more »

Stewart Burns

Arsenal are going to have some major decisions to make regarding the management i think,that was the worst 45 mins of football against that class of opposition i can remember,but the thing that is doing my head in the most is the fact that our defendets and cm are getting asked to pass out from the back when we clearly cant i dont know what you can gain from passing a ball 3 yards to a defender as the goal keeper then isnt an option when looking for players to receive the ball and beat the press,CAN EMERY NOT FUCKING… Read more »


This is exactly how last season started as well – causing heart attacks and dropped points by unnecessarily passing the ball around at the back. Once we’re ahead by 2 goals, away from home against a team desperate for any lifeline in their season, you just hoof it long and keep enough players back never to be caught out, and aim to nick a third with a break. I daresay that any of those horrible managers we like to slander on here (Allardyce, Pulis, etc.) would have easily engineered a 2- or 3-nil victory for us in the second half.… Read more »


How long does Emery have to sort this out before his job is at risk?


it should already be at risk


If Emery gets his third year at Arsenal then Arsenal fans should boycott the club.
It is disgraceful the way Arsenal played yesterday and the reaction of manager and captain yesterday.
Xhaka is a complete and utter idiot – no one liked him at the club much less as captain and to say what he did makes him a clear and obvious target for abuse and to be perfectly honest he deserves it. I might even give some abuse myself….
As for Emery – I never wanted him at Arsenal and the sooner he is gone the better…


Bring back rosicky and santi

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

Emery will surely see out his contract unless things get worse than Wenger’s last season…I’m OK with that because there are no adequate managers right now…..for those clamouring for Enrique and Allegri trust me those are not the managers we need..we have seen what they can do.. They are boring to have…. We need a young,fearless,brave and upcoming manager who wants to prove a point and take coaching to a different level.. A manager that wants to be different with his own fluid way of football…there are so many of them out there but my heart and head goes for… Read more »

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

Managers lose games…even the best manager in the world will surely one day lose a game….but it is how you lose that matters, do you lose like a coward?..or do you lose like a true,loyal and proud protagonist?……i want to win, lose or draw a game knowing i didn’t make it easy for the opposition even in my worst form….. Please Edu and Raul i cry out for a real coach when Emery is gone.. Gazidis made a mistake but i don’t expect you guys to make another mistake because it could be very dangerous for our future

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

It’s going to be a long painful season for us
With alot of ordinary unconvincing wins,1-4 mouthwatering and breathtaking wins,alot of painful questionable defeats and draws and finally alot of thankful and grateful draws that would feel like a win.

Sit back and enjoy the ride!
Victoria Concordia Crescit!

Bob T

Gutless! Emery out

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

We have a great crop of young talented players at our disposal right now at every department of the team and also the future of Arsenal(pepe,nketiah,saka,willock,guendouzi,tierney,holding,saliba,emile smith rowe and martinelli)….we don’t know when we can be this lucky again we need to take advantage of it and put ourselves in a strong and comfortable position to be a strong giant that can consistently compete even when these crop of players are gone like what Barcelona did in 2006/2007 and upwards and also Bayern Munich For this to happen our next appointment after Emery is going to be very huge for… Read more »


If Arsene Wenger was in charge yesterday – with a much better team than he had at his disposal for years – we would have rolled Watford over 4-0.

Passive, confused and incohesive. The team looks like a bunch of guys who’ve never met each other before, let alone played together.


Also, as much as I don’t want, I think the only option now is to switch to a 3-2-3-2 formation


How do you fancy that line up? Seems to be very narrow.


When did we become sp*rs? These things are spursy. We used to win on bad days. #GiveUsArsenalBack

Fart Overjars

Emery out


has Bummery been sacked?


if you play Guendouzi, you cede control of the midfield, even if you play 3 more midfielders to cover for him. He cant defend, cant link play, cant hold up the ball and cant switch play.


Damn, not sure I agree with that at all. He wasn’t good this game, but he’s been pretty good for the most part.


when has he ever done anything of note defensively?
he has just one assist and zero goals in the pl and he pretty much plays every game since his lover became coach.


Seriously, I think the rest of the league is laughing at our tactics and looking forward to their go at robbing us.


Great analysis, one thing (aside from the shots on goal discrepancy) that really stood out was this stat: 55 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the first half, 5 completed into the box 55 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first half, 4 completed into the box 101 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the second half, 17 completed into the box 28 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first (should be 2nd half) half, 5 completed into the box So much… Read more »


Could someone please put David Luiz on a boat, sail him to the middle of an ocean, push him overboard and then sail away from him. Please.


Encouraging murder is pretty extreme, isn’t it?


Panic over. I was writing figuratively. As in ‘anonarse is a glans’.


Doesn’t help whether it’s figuratively or literally, it’s still an encouragement to commit a gruesome murder, that should be avoided for any human being.


Are you ok?


are you 14 years old?


Are you trying to groom me?


The crazy thing is that we’re pretty much producing the same numbers & stats as we were at this stage last season – but the major difference is that this time round, the opposition teams are successfully punishing our mistakes.

We have been on a steady decline since Christmas because that’s when the league sussed out Emery’s tactics, to the extent that the team that’s rock bottom of the table are able to confidently get 30 shots on our goal and feel genuinely gutted that they didn’t win.

We are not a better team under Unai Emery.


Unai has to take the full responsibility for the issues that we have in the current team. We cannot play 4 at the back with the players that we have currently. Kolasinac, AMN, and Luiz are more suited for 5 at the back. Xhaka performs better when he doesn’t have to do too much defensive work. Even if he doesn’t play Xhaka, we will have the same problem. I’m not exonerating Xhaka here. I just feel as a tactician, I expect Unai to switch his system according to the players he has at his disposal. When Tierney, Holding, and Bellerin… Read more »


Usual fluff from the stats merchant

Should also publish the number of unforced errors by our great summer purchase of SideshowBob.

That’s the two penalties so far in 3 games.

He’s no better than Mustafi.

BUT lets not say that cos we won’t want those stats published.

Don’t mention Sokratis.

Don’t mention GUendouzi’s errant passes bc it won’t be (as the Americans say) PC.

Don’t mention the unpopular Granit was the one who made the last ditch tackle to bail out Guendouzi’s poor pass infield.

Stats. Its what you want to see (or other fools to see)


Just listened to the Arsecast. Jaysus, but everyone is over-reacting. Even Andrew and James. Considering the rebuild job Emery was looking at. Considering missing many key players from last time (Ramsey, Kos, Monreal, Bellerin out, Holding out) he’s got a lot of work to do. It isn’t like AMN, and Kolasinac and Luiz are nailed on, solid players. Yesterday at Watford was a mess, but this isn’t the first time it happened there. And other places. I recall the late Wenger years where we looked lost and out of ideas on the pitch. And every team – e.g., Citeh at… Read more »


Nobody has forgotten anything here — the manager traded third place for fifth against mid-table teams to conclude our season, and lost that European final 4-1. He’s in his second season, after a massive spend, and we are 8-8 in goals for/against after 5 matches, and we’re quite embarrassing. As many have pointed out, Arsenal have been bailed out by Aubameyang/Lacazette (that bloody mess of Wenger’s) moments of brilliance to mask otherwise glaring shortcomings in our game. The stats last season and this are very clear: we are worse by the numbers than we were under the previous regime. Had… Read more »