By Walter Broeckx
Again a lot of changes, in fact the same number (10) of changes compared to our last starting line up. The only player to keep his place is also the same: Mustafi.
Welbeck was not on the bench and I think this might be a wise move from Wenger to not burn him up and bring him back slowly. After all he has been out for almost two seasons and no need to rush him now.
Iwobi made his 50th appearance for Arsenal and Walcott needs one more goal to get a century behind his name. Will he get it today?
Arsenal team: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Alexis, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud
On the beach: Ospina, Gibbs, Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas, Walcott
I don’t like to start with mentioning the ref but Marinner ignoring a foul on Coquelin and then giving a foul when he does the same… don’t start like that ref. And certainly that cheecky smile to Behrami… Watford with a rather open start to the match but just some free kicks that lead to nothing. The ref really trying to get under the skin of the Arsenal players with not allowing any physical contact with the Watford players. And from one such a soft free kick Watford take the lead as the ball took a slight deflection of Ramsey. 0-1 after 10 minutes. Goal from Kaboul. Job done ref and now he gives even a few fouls in favour of Arsenal. Arsenal then lose the ball in midfield and an Watford player goes on a run, Cech stops the ball but the rebound is put over the line. 0-2 to Watford after 12 minutes. Goal from Deeney. We sure know how to make life difficult for ourselves.
Ramsey then goes down pointing at his calf. He has to go off and The Ox prepares himself to come on. Ramsey sure had a bad start, a deflection, losing the ball… The Ox comes on after 20 minutes. Nothing dangerous from Arsenal so far in this match. Gabriel goes in the book from the ref for a mistimed tackle. Arsenal really not getting in to their rhythm. Still 0-2 behind after half an hour.
Cech has to turn over a header from Prödl for a corner. And Giroud has to block the shot from the corner. Cech then again with an important save. Nothing working for Arsenal. Passes not arriving at teammates. Choosing the wrong options. Finally a shot from Alexis but the first is blocked and the second goes well wide. Well at least an effort. Even Özil joins in the bad passing. We will need a completely different second half performance. Arsenal 0-2 behind after 45 minutes.
Walcott came on in the second half in the place of Giroud who was invisible in the first half. Walcott with a shot but wide. Iwobi with a good run, to Özil to Walcott with a free shooting chance but the keeper saved the shot. Mustafi with a header but wide from the corner. Arsenal now really playing the way they should have been doing from the start. Iwobi and the Ox with a good combination but an amazing low stop from the keeper prevents an Arsenal goal. Then Özil with a shot but another good save from the keeper. Alexis goes down under a challenge from Prodl but no foul says the ref. Arsenal get a throw in, Alexis lobs a cross to Iwobi who puts the ball over the line. GOAL!!! 1-2 after 58 minutes.
Arsenal keep on pressing but Gabriel can’t direct his header towards goal. Coquelin with a tackle in the backline from Arsenal but on the ball, both non penalty decisions from the ref correct. After 67 minutes Lucas came on for Coquelin. Iwobi dropping back to midfield as a result. Two Arsenal players just can’t get to a shot from a promising position. Some confusion in the Watford penalty area but the ball doesn’t fall kindly for Arsenal and Watford can clear. The Ox then makes a strong tackle and is limping a bit. This is getting from bad to worse with all our subs made. Gabriel with a shot after a cross from Lucas but well over. Arsenal still 1-2 behind after 75 minutes.
Monreal with a volley after a corner but a meter wide. Gabriel with a throw in to Lucas whose shot crashes off the crossbar back in the field. Alexis then gets a yellow card because he protest the time wasting from Watford. Well well… A tackle foot in front going in the air is not a red card this time. Okaka escapes with a yellow card. The ball just doesn’t fall good enough most of the time. Cleverly gets a yellow card for a foul on Monreal. But the free kick is headed away. Mustafi and Prodl clash but Prodl clearly played the ball so no foul but not another injury…. please. Mustaif hobbles off. But comes back on. A low shot from Lucas but again the keeper stops.
Arsenal lose after a bad start to the match. A deflected free kick and losing the ball lead to an early double blow. Maybe Arsenal focused too much on the unbeaten record from Mustafi and jinxed it. Losing a few players with injuries added to the bad feeling.
A terrible night in the pouring rain… the weather summed up our evening.