In the gap between Premiership games, the Daily Star ran a story saying some Arsenal fans wanted a new manager, with Julian Nagelsmann and Ralph Hasenhuttl discussed options.
It labelled those suggestions as ridiculous. But after yesterday, perhaps it is slightly less so.
Positives were hard to find. Aubameyang’s brilliant trap, turn and shoot all in one seamless movement was a high point. Some of Ozil’s perceptive passing in the first half was another. Ceballos’s all-round game, perhaps
The main positive was the news prior to the match that a whole new back four is back in training – Bellerin, Mavrapanos, Holding and Tierney. Could they do worse than the defence, yesterday?
There was little sign of Watford’s second half onslaught in the first half – not getting many men forward into the box, preferring a cautious approach, given their bottom of the table status. But portents were there – including the two or three players ready to press from Arsenal’s short goal kicks.
An early Deulofeu shot went wide and Cleverley was given time and space with Luiz back-tracking to find a shot on target which Leno tipped over. Deulofeu set up Holebas, after beating Maitland Niles but he fired over.
Guendouzi, who took the ball in a central area just outside the 18-yard box, from a goal kick, just managed to evade the press and set up Pepe for a shot on goal.
Throughout the half Arsenal grew in dominance and Ceballos tackled Hughes and sent Kolasinac charging down the left channel and finding Aubameyang in the area who controlled it with his left, swivelled and shot low with his right into the net.
An Ozil pass in the area just evaded Aubameyang running in. But soon after, a perceptive pass found Maitland Niles who had moved in then out to find space and fire a low hard pass to Aubameyang unmarked to tap in his second.
Guendouzi took another pass from Leno on the 18-yard line, and as previously two or three Watford players pressed. He lost the ball and the resulting shot went wide. He apologised to teammates.
But soon he piled into a fracas between Pepe and Holebas with raised arms and was lucky just to get a yellow.
In the second half, as if chasing the meaningful action, he then took a pass from a short goal-kick sent a blind pass to Gray in the area who mis-controlled.
As if this wasn’t enough of an alarm bell to start kicking long, Sokratis passed a goal-kick straight to Guendouzi, which was intercepted by Deulofeu who tapped to Cleverley to fire home. The lessons of the first half were not heeded.
It was the touch-paper to start the Watford onslaught. Deulofeu skipped past Maitland Niles and let fly just wide. He then found Sarr in the area who turned and shot wide. And then cut in to the right and fired again – just wide.
Torriera, on for Guendouzi, had the first Arsenal effort of the second half – well saved by Foster.
A Pereyra dribble found Luiz dangling a leg in the area – penalty (third conceded in a row). It was fired to Leno’s right into the net.
Arsenal changed tack midway through the second half – kicking long. But the strikers were isolated and the gap between them and midfield and defence – huge. Defensive organisation went out of the window – and it was all hands to the pumps to keep out a Watford winner.
Another Deulofeu effort went narrowly wide and Cleverley’s goal-bound effort was headed wide by Luiz.
Watford should have scored when Doucouré run from his own area – set up a one-two with Sarr but shot straight at Leno.
The statistics from this game speak more than quotes, with Watford having 31 shots in 90 minutes to Arsenal’s 7, and 23 of the home team’s efforts coming after the break.
Arsenal’s possession dropped from 57% in the first half to 37%in the second half.
Arsenal are now are the team with the most shots conceded in Premiership this season – 94.
They have conceded from 14 individual errors and given away ten penalties since Emery took over.
As Martin Keown put in on the BBC: “the worrying thing is Emery’s side still have huge issues defensively, and they do not appear to be improving. In fact, they seem to be getting worse.”
Watford: Foster, Femenía (Booked 56), Dawson, Kabasele, Holebas (Booked 45,Substituted for Janmaat 78), Doucouré, Capoue (Booked 90), Hughes (Substituted for Pereyra 63), Cleverley, Deulofeu, Gray (Substituted for Sarr 54)
Arsenal: Leno (Booked 76), Maitland-Niles, Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Kolasinac (Booked 43), Xhaka, Guendouzi (Booked 45, Substituted for Torreira 67), Ceballos (Substituted for Willock 60), Özil (Substituted for Nelson 71), Aubameyang, Pépé