Watford 2 Arsenal 2
Cleverley 53, Pereyra, pen, 81 Aubameyang 21, 32

Arsenal squandered a two goal lead at Vicarage Road to allow Watford to claim a point when it could have been more. The Gunners were clinging on at the end as the inspired Hornets who having gone down 2-0 in the first half, came with wave after wave of attack against a seemingly startled visitors. It could and should have been much for the Unai Emery’s men who saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pounce twice just past the half hour mark. More Arsenal goals seemed inevitable, but newly arrived Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores sent his men out for the second half with a message to win the second period. However, Arsenal had a massive hand in allowing their hosts back in the game. Emery’s reliance of his players playing out from the back would cost the Gunners dear. It almost happened in the first half when with his back to the onrushing attackers, Matteo Guendouzi was mobbed, but the ball was recovered. No such luck when Sokratis tried to find the young France midfielder from his own area, only for Tom Cleverley to slot past Bern Leno. David Luiz then conceded a penalty as Roberto Pereyra raced through, and made no mistake from the spot. Arsenal were out on their legs, and out of ideas. Abdoulaye Doucoure saw his burst and late effort denied by Leno, while at the other end, Ben Foster was a virtual spectator. Emery has to accept that he doesn’t have the manpower capable of playing out from the back, anything other the that and the Spain coach could find it a very difficult season in N5.

Emery was at a loss as to explain what he had just witnessed. Once again his replacing of the industrious and skilful Dani Ceballos after an hour was baffling. As was his taking off of Guendouzi. Mesut Ozil has shown that he wanders when he needs to step up, but here he stayed on until the 71st minute. Ceballos put in a shift at both ends in a way that Ozil has rarely shown. The on loan Real Madrid midfielder may be coming to terms with the rigours of the Premier League, but here the game needed him to stay on. Instead, the Gunners finished with the talented youth of Reis Nelson and Joe Willock who needed to have leaders next to them.

Despite his youth and the facts that he’s still learning, Emery praised Guendouzi’s afternoon.

“We have some young players, they need to have experiences like today. And also, I say to Matteo, Matteo is a very good player, he is improving, he is young, he is very emotional, he has personality and sometimes needs to make some mistakes to improve. In the first half he made a mistake and didn’t score. In the second half we continued trying because we need to do that work and that is my responsibility because also when we can change and have a second plan – it’s doing long balls and the second action – they were very strong and we didn’t earn balls in that planning also. The key was to impose and we are going to work for have and make better our build up with the goalkeeper, with the defenders and the midfielders and also, being well when we are doing long balls for breaking their lines with long ball for taking more chances. Because we tried and we didn’t have also chances with that second plan.”

Having held out the early attacks from Watford, Arsenal took the lead when Ceballos won the ball on the left. Dead Kolasinac took over to feed Aubameyang.The Gabon striker turned and shot low to beat Ben Foster on 21 minutes. Aubameyang then doubled his and Arsenal’s tally when Ozil played a precision pass to pick out Ainsley Maitlan-Niles on the right. The defender played in a first time pass to take out the Hornets rear line as Aubameyang tapped home. That should have been that, but Arsenal’s lack of experience in game management enabled their hosts to get back in the game. Why Emery couldn’t tell his players to sit deep as the Hornets began to erupt was mystifying.

Emery lamented. “We couldn’t control the match and we couldn’t break their pressing, first because they are a good team, they played last year here with that spirit, that capacity and they are physically strong. They have good players and in the second half they showed that. They deserved that result. We struggled more than we wanted and we were speaking also that we need calm for achieve our moment to get in the box and score. We did that less than we wanted and really, my summary is we need to work and we need to improve things.”

The Gunners head coach has now seen his side claim just two points from a possible nine in their last three Premier League games. Arsenal next travel to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Aston Villa on Sunday.