Watford came from behind to defeat Arsenal 4-2 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at London Colney yesterday afternoon.
Organised to give minutes to those players not taking part in the World Cup, it sounds like it was very much a game of two halves.
The Gunners started with a side made up of first team squad members and led at the break 2-1 courtesy of goals from Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah.
Mikel Arteta then switched all of his outfield players for kids from the academy and the visitors promptly hit back to secure the win.
Judging by the highlights, Arsenal were well on top in the opening period of the match with Mo Elneny twice coming close, Eddie Nketiah flashing wide and Sambi Lokonga hitting the post. The pressure eventually told on 28 minutes when Marquinhos found the bottom corner with a curler from the edge of the box.
Watford hit back against the run of play as Keinan Davis took advantage of a gaffe by Gabriel Magalhaes to round keeper Karl Hein and slot home.
The Gunners recovered the lead quickly thanks to Eddie Nketiah’s close-range header following a fine cross by Kieran Tierney. We’ll need more of that from the striker given the concerning reports that Gabriel Jesus will be sidelined for three months.
The likes of Lino Sousa, Ethan Nwaneri and Matt Smith were all part of the academy lineup sent out for the second period and they came close to extending our advantage when Amario Cozier-Duberry hit the post with a header.
After that, Watford made their experience count with an unmarked Davies grabbing his second before Yaser Asprilla fired into the top corner. He was later replaced by Edu’s son, Luigi, who was back on familiar territory following his departure from the club in the summer. Joao Pedro’s solo effort rounded off the scoring on 77 minutes.
Arsenal’s warm-weather training camp in Dubai is next on the agenda. We assume everybody who took part yesterday will be on the plane today and could get another run out in four days when we face Lyon.
After that, it’s AC Milan on 13th December, Juventus on 17th December and soon enough the resumption of the Premier League.
Arsenal lineups: Hein (Graczyk 58), Cedric (Walters 46), Holding (Foran 46), Gabriel (Monlouis 46), Tierney (Sousa 46), Elneny (Lewis-Skelly 46), Lokonga (Nwaneri 46), Odegaard (Smith 46), Nelson (Butler-Oyedeji 46), Marquinhos (Sagoe Jr) 46), Nketiah (Cozier-Duberry 46). Subs not used: Awe, Cirjan, Ideho.