Arsenal win despite claims of ‘disrespect’
Going into this game, it was difficult to see any other outcome than a relatively straight forward Arsenal victory.
The sun was shining on a crisp November afternoon at the Emirates where Mikel Arteta was celebrating his 100th game in charge of the Gunners hoping to take his side’s unbeaten run into double figures.
It seemed as though events were going to follow the script when Bukayo Saka tapped in from virtually on the goalline to put the hosts 1-0 up just a few minutes into the game before celebrating amusingly with Emile Smith Rowe.
VAR intervened to rule out the England international’s goal and you just started to wonder whether this might be a difficult day at the office for Arsenal.
Unfortunately though fate had other ideas…
For sides as young as the Gunners going through the emotional process of celebrating a goal only to see it ruled out can be difficult, but not to worry they would get more chances.
Danny Rose ‘s rugby tackle on Alexandre Lacazette saw Arteta’s side handed a golden opportunity the chance to put the turbulent start behind them and get back to how things were supposed to go.
However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed to send nerves jangling through the Emirates crowd.
Gabriel then had a header from a corner – a speciality of Arsenal’s in recent weeks – miraculously saved on the goalline by Ben Foster and it felt as though it had the potential to be one of those days.
As the half time whistle blew the Gunners went in to the dressing room dominant having completed 253 passes to Watford’s 74 and managed 51 in the final third to their visitor’s 19, but somehow it was still 0-0.
Moments like these and how you respond to them can define the trajectory of a season for a side as inexperienced as Arsenal.
Failure to win a game that was so emminently winnable and can have a dramatic series of consequences that induce significant anxiety the next time they come up against a low block.
Luckily for Arteta that didn’t turn out to be a problem.
Arsenal were able to edge in front thanks to a goal from Smith Rowe as he pounced on a loose deflection after Moussa Sissoko attempted to tackle Ben White.
Watford were unhappy about the nature of the goal, with Claudio Ranieri angrily letting Arteta know at the full time whistle that he felt the goal showed a lack of respect given that the Hornets had put the ball out for an injury in the run up to it.
However, the Spaniard was wisely not drawn into any attempt at mudslinging between him and Ranieri, as he instead took his press conference as a chance to focus on the positives of the display.
“I’m focused on the performance,” he said. “I want to talk about what we did and we deserved completely to win the game.”
He’s right in saying that his side deserved to win the game, but in recent times that has been far from enough to guarantee Arsenal the three points.
The fact that the Gunners were able to leave the Emirates with the victory despite the challenging circumstances they came up against is testament to the character this young side is showing.