The Warm Down: Abject Arsenal gift Watford a crucial point
Pierre Emmerick Aubameyang looks on, disappointed. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Warm Down: Abject Arsenal gift Watford a crucial point

Arsenal threw away a 2-0 lead in the second half at Vicarage Road, after Watford fought back to claim a point in Quique Sanchez Flores’ return to the Hornets. 

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Richard Clarke

Two Pierre Emmerick Aubameyang goals saw the visitors lead at half-time, but Arsenal missed the chance to go third after two second half goals from Tom Cleverley and Roberto Pereyra earned the hosts a well-deserved point. 

Watford will feel aggrieved not to have taken all three points, after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s wonderful, driving counter-attack was denied from close range by Bernd Leno.

Here are some of the key talking points from Vicarage Road:

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Defensive migraine still not cured

It is clear there are still a multitude of defensive issues at Arsenal. 

Watford managed to chalk up no less than 31 shots against Unai Emery’s men; the highest Arsenal have faced since records began in 03/04. In Arsenal’s opening five games they have faced a total of 83 shots.

The Gunners were once again caught in possession far too many times deep in their own half while trying to play out from the back. Early in the second half, after not learning their lesson the first however-many-times, Sokratis was the culprit who played a lamentable pass from deep inside his own box which was seized by Gerard Deulofeu and quickly converted by Cleverley.

Arsenal struggled to retain possession the remainder of the half and their fortunes went from bad to worse as deadline day signing David Luiz conceded his second penalty in three games to gift Pereyra the chance to equalise from the spot.

The visitors were very lucky to leave with a point after Doucoure burst through what seemed like a gulf in midfield, playing a perfectly timed one-two with Pereyra only to be let down by a poor finish and a comfortable Bernd Leno save from close range. 

Should Emery and co. not urgently address this vital downfall, that has been a prominent issue for more seasons than Arsenal fans like to admit, it’s going to prove difficult for Arsenal to achieve their target of returning to the Champions League

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Ozil returns with promising performance

Five games into Arsenal’s Premier League campaign, Mesut Ozil made his first Premier League appearance of the season. 

A constant divide in opinion throughout the Arsenal fanbase, many were shocked to see the former Germany international named in the starting line-up. Especially away from home. 

Although the German may not have been at his sharpest, he was one of Arsenal’s better performers on the day. He was instrumental in Arsenal’s second goal, carving Watford open with a ball in behind for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play across goal for Aubameyang.

With the Gunners against the ropes in the second half and it being his first appearance of the season, a substitution was inevitable, and Emery withdrew him for Reiss Nelson in the 71stminute. 

Arsenal fans will be looking to Ozil to build on today’s cameo by rediscovering his spark and injecting further creativity into their side in coming weeks. 

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Aubameyang carries on carrying Arsenal

Where many Arsenal players looked lost, full of mistakes and generally uninspired today, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang still managed to maintain his high level of service, bagging himself another two goals, taking his tally to five in five for the Premier League season and 37 in 54 games overall since signing.

Worryingly, Arsenal have only managed a total of 38 shots in their opening five games. Only Alexandre Lacazette (2) and Lucas Torreira (1) have managed to find the net for the Gunners in the league this season.

With Lacazette currently side lined until October with an ankle problem and record-signing Nicolas Pepe yet to open his Arsenal account, there’s increasing pressure and expectation on Arsenal’s only fit centre forward to keep scoring. 

The decision to send Eddie Nketiah (who bagged his fourth goal of the season earlier today) on loan to Leeds, especially after such a great pre-season, seems to have left Arsenal short in the striker department.

With the Europa League and Carabao Cup soon to commence, Arsenal’s lack of depth up front and what would seem to be Aubameyang’s goalscoring burden may become a real issue and further results may start to suffer should Arsenal not start to contribute goals from elsewhere. 

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