Test for Arsenal’s young team – facing a lot of niggly aggression and an experienced Watford side aiming to contain and disrupt.
So, in some respects the fact Arsenal didn’t give the ball back, after being kicked out by Danny Rose seeing Tufan on the ground is just deserts. As Lacazette was about to take the throw in, Rose signalled to the Turkish player, now on his feet, to stay on the ground.
Another match-winning performance from Emile Smith Rowe
Ranieri’s Chelsea beat Arsenal in 2004 in the Champions League in a stark realisation that former Russian state money pitted against Arsenal fan’s money favoured the former. But he has never had a Premier League win versus Arsenal in 11 games.
Arsenal went into this seven unbeaten. Tavares kept his place. Maitland Niles came in for the injured Partey, paired with Lokonga. Could the relatively inexperienced Arsenal midfield hold their own against experienced counterparts?
For Watford, Femenia and Nkoulou came into the defence, Dennis and Tufan came back from injuries. They played in a 4-1-4-1 and on paper looked threatening with Dennis and King and Sarr on the counter.
Bob Wilson gave the Remembrance Service Address. Can’t believe it is 39 years since I interviewed him.
It was a match of milestones. Arteta reached his one hundredth Arsenal game in charge. It was Foster’s 500th appearance.
Maitland Niles, looking sharp intercepted and set up Lacazette who lobbed Foster – the ball fell to Aubameyang who miskicked and although Saka knocked it into the net-the England player was deemed offside – by VAR.
White showed his dangerous line-breaking ability with a run.
Watford came into it more after 20 minutes – right on cue. Tomiyasu was booked for bringing down Sarr. But Kucka was booked for going into the back of Lacazette.
Arsenal dominated possession but lacked a final ball to create clear cut chances. Watford executed fouls to break up Arsenal’s rhythm.
Towards the end of the first half, Maitland Niles miskicked it high and Rose clattered Lacazette on the head in the area. Aubameyang who wasn’t exhibiting 100% form, hit the penalty hard but relatively straight at Foster who saved.
Watford maybe should have gone in ahead when Kucka beat Lokonga near the 18-yard line, but his shot was deflected by White.
Gabriel caught a cross well from a corner, illustrating Arsenal’s improvement at set pieces – as he headed down – but Foster read the bounce and cleared.
At the start of the second half, Saka beat Rose easily and cut it back –but Lokonga’s shot was saved by Foster.
Arsenal’s pressure told on 56, following a sequence from the disputed throw-in. Ben White dribbled into the Watford area and the ball fell into space neatly for Smith Rowe to hit hard – deflected past Foster.
Watford brought on Pedro to make an extra forward with Sarr moving inside.
Saka and Odegaard worked space in the Watford area, with the Norwegian neatly taking it forward and firing towards the goal with Foster beaten. Aubameyang jumped in to touch it in – but was offside.
Arsenal switched sides with aplomb leading to Tavares driving to the byline and crossing neatly leading to Odegaard firing just over the bar.
Arsenal could have dropped two points as Ramsdale and White misjudged a through ball and King shot from a tight angle instead of passing to an unmarked Sarr.
Towards the end, Tavares drove in towards the Watford area and was hacked by Kucka for a second yellow.
Most of the post-match analysis focused on the throw-in incident. Ranieri said: “When we put the ball out voluntarily, everyone expects [the opponent] to give the ball back to you but there was not that respect from the Arsenal players.”
Premier League: Arsenal 1 Watford 0
Arteta said: “I would say that we are the most honest team and in some stages we can even become naive. If he felt like that towards our club, I have to apologise if that’s the case, but I am sure there is no intention to take any advantage.”
Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 18Tomiyasu (Booked at 30mins), 4White, 6Gabriel (Booked at 80mins), 20Varela Tavares, 7Saka (Substituted for Martinelli at 90+3’minutes), 23Sambi Lokonga (Booked at 20mins), 15Maitland-Niles, 10Smith Rowe (Substituted for Elneny at 86’minutes), 9Lacazette (Substituted for Ødegaard at 69’minutes), 14Aubameyang (Booked at 52mins)
Watford: 1Foster, 21Femenía, 15Cathcart (Substituted for Fletcher at 90+4’minutes), 13Nkoulou, 3Rose, 19Sissoko (Booked at 54mins), 23Sarr, 33Kucka (Booked at 89mins) 18Tufan (Substituted for João Pedro at 62’minutes), 25Dennis (Substituted for Hernández Suárez at 74’minutes), 7King (Booked at 10mins)