Result: Watford 2 – 3 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 6 March 2022
Venue: Vicarage Road
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette
Subs: Leno, Holding, Tavares, Swanson, Elneny, Lokonga, Pepe, Hutchinson, Nketiah
Arsenal showed amazing attacking ability against Watford with 3 scintillating goals by Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli with the England international claiming the Man of the Match award for a brilliant performance.
Defensively, Arsenal were solid for most of the game but had moments where they should have done better and were penalised both times with goals conceded in both halves. The second goal by Sissoko in the 85th minute caused the final stretch of the match to be nervy but Arsenal did just enough to close the game out.
Arteta named an unchanged side from our victory against Wolves in a bid to secure a top 4 league position. All eyes would be on Partey who has been one of the standout performers in recent weeks as the midfield pivot.
Nketiah and Pepe made the bench as possible gamechanging subs while Emile Smith-Rowe and Tomiyasu remain sidelined due to injury.
It took only 16 seconds to jangle our nerves as Watford pierced through Arsenal’s defence to put Dennis on goal. The Nigerian international scored only to be called off for offside – an early warning shot to keep the Gunners on their toes.
The Gunners were definitely not shaken as they danced through the Watford team to score 4 minutes later. A nice combination of passes on the right wing saw the Norwegian put Saka through with a delicate swiveled backheel. Saka drove through the right and cut back for an onrushing Odegaard who calmly slotted the ball into the far corner with his side foot. 0-1 Arsenal
Not to be upstaged at home, Watford hit back with an excellent goal by Hernandez. The striker scored with a tremendous overhead kick though the Arsenal defence could have done better to deny the cross and deny Hernandez the space as there were 3 defenders the around him. 1-1 Watford
The game continued to be end to end as both teams were hunting for 3 points. Partey had a couple of long distance shots go just wide while Watford almost went in front after Ramsdale spilled a Dennis shot in the box.
But it was Arsenal won back the initiative amidst the chaos – in beautiful fashion no less. Saka won the ball back from a Watford player who was caught out outside the penalty box. He passed the ball to Lacazette who laid off beautifully for Saka who lashed it into the top corner. 1-2 Arsenal
The goal took the sting out of the tail for Watford and gave Arsenal the perogative to keep possession for the rest of the first half. Odegaard and Saka were brilliant with their interchanges, Lacazette did his best to be a nuisance with his hold up play and pressing.
The Gunners went into the half time as leaders, a reward for their strong performance thus far.
Watford had their first chance of the game within the first minute of the first half and it was no different in the second. Arsenal played a high line and Watford slide in a through pass. Ramsdale rushed out to claim it outside the box but his reckless clearance reached an opponent on the halfway line.
He was lucky that Watford couldn’t take advantage of that slip up as Gabriel mopped up with a tackle and pushed out the ball for a throw in.
Where Watford couldn’t take advantage, Arsenal pressed theirs. Saka took a quick throw in for Cedric. The right back passed it on to Odegaard who chipped it for Lacazette on the edge of the box. The striker needed only one touch to lay off for Martinelli who fired a rocket into the top corner. A top class goal from the Brazilian who has been quiet for most of the game. 1-3 Arsenal
The goal sparked the home side to life. Chances came for Watford as the Arsenal defenders had to make last ditch attempts to keep the lead. But this also left them open to Arsenal’s counter attacks as Lacazette, Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli threatened.
Arsenal showed some of their best patterns of play all season as their quick feet were accompanied by quick thinking and “automatisms” in movement. Nketiah and Pepe soon came on for Lacazette and Martinelli and the waves of attack continued.
Unfortunately, all that domination caused a slip in concentration for the Arsenal. Watford lobbed through a ball for Sissoko who darted into the Arsenal box. Ben White over-committed with his challenge and Sissoko slipped past him and slotted the ball into the far corner to make it a nervy last 5 minutes. 2-3 Watford
Arteta brought on Holding for Odegaard to see out 5 minutes of injury time, and see it out we did though in usual Arsenal fashion, we made it tougher than we should.
Still, Arsenal took all 3 points to leapfrog over Manchester United in fourth with 2 games in hand. Another great step forward for this young team.