Watford Review: The 200 and Troy Deeney’s Shrivelled Cojones

Arsenal 3 – 0 Watford

The script wrote itself. Petr Cech danced on his line as Troy Deeney strode forward to hit the spot kick straight down the middle of the goal. Cech got his hands on it, parrying the ball.

At this point, it would have been so Arsenal for the ball to hit the turf and spin into the net. Fate hadn’t read the script and the ball bounced to safety. Cech’s first penalty save in an Arsenal shirt and his first in the Premier League since 2011.

Even Jens Lehmann found it amusing. You hope he reduced the moment to our coarse level, shouting “Uvanka!” at Troy Deeney from his lofty perch. It has to be something like that for it brought a smile to his companions faces.

I know what you thinking. This Deeney thing has got out of hand but frankly, like Tottenham’s defeat last week, if you can’t find the humour in that for a few days afterwards, you have to ask if football really is your thang.

Cech’s 200th clean sheet was the third surprise of the afternoon. The second was that it took Granit Xhaka 89 minutes to get booked.

It was a typical Arsenal performance with Watford’s few chances coming as a result of our own making. Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding frequently criticised this season, were okay and nothing more. They were centre-backs who rarely – if ever – play together in a four and it showed. Its job done, so no complaints given the six changes to the starting line-up.

A Little Better

Mustafi opened the scoring with a repeat of his goal against Tottenham earlier in the season. A firm header from Mesut Özil’s free-kick, the midfielder’s 50th Premier League assist, reached in a short-lived record time. It was the club’s 1,000th home goal in the Premier League to top off the record-setting afternoon.

Aubameyang and Özil missing gilt-edged opportunities to give the half-time scoreline a one-sided look. The former’s shot skidded to safety off the goalkeeper’s inner thigh while the latter found his way blocked in a Jenningsesque style. Both were presentable chances and both should have been scored.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was another who enjoyed his afternoon, grabbing his second goal in nine appearances which is as many as he scored for United last season in 22. He’d already added his eighth assist of the season – equally his total in his entire Manchester United career – when he set Aubameyang free for a coolly take finish for the second of the afternoon.

In a largely uneventful match, Martin Atkinson managed to create controversy. It took a replay to work out why he’d awarded Watford their penalty and no-one fathomed how he didn’t award Arsenal one. Even a VAR would call that a fundamental error by the referee.

Post-match, it’s churlish to not allow Arsène some positive spin after a win so fire away, winmeister:

“When you are knocked down it’s a little bit like in a boxing match when you’re half-knocked down you don’t have time to recover and the next one comes again. That’s what happened to us.

“But at some stage, you know you have to respond. Your pride and desire to show quality has to come through in the game.”

It Can’t Get No Worse

In fairness to the manager, he recognised there was much work for the team to do in terms of regenerating belief in the stands,

“I want our fans to be behind the team and be happy. But after what happened in that week, it’s a bit understandable.

“We are in a job where we have to get the fans on our side and do absolutely everything to do it, to achieve it. That’s what we want to do.”

Wenger, you sense, is in a losing battle this season. I’d expect big crowds in the Europa League but the fixtures which remain will most likely see the Premier League reduced to indifference. The race is run for both fifth and fourth as far as the league is concerned so apathy reigns supreme for those remaining games.

The football tourists aren’t interested either but Arsenal still records 59,000 tickets sold so there’s no financial damage yet. Even so, empty seats are negatives they can’t shake off. Whether Stan noticed is anyone’s guess.

Before the match, Ivan felt it inappropriate to discuss Arsène’s future. Raul Sannelhi let slip he’d overseen eight changes of manager at Barcelona. Someone somewhere at Arsenal knows what they are doing.

’til Tomorrow.

40 thoughts on “Watford Review: The 200 and Troy Deeney’s Shrivelled Cojones

  1. Morning!

    Two back to back wins, a clean sheet for Cech and forwards scoring goals. The world of Arsenal shines a little brighter this morning.

    Papering over cracks again.

  2. Pete the Thirst:
    Had an end of season feel about it. Unbeaten run to the end of the season?

    Would be nice to see, but with an away match at the Moaning-One’s United I cannot see it happening. There is also the small matter of the Europa League.

  3. Morning All

    With regards to the “attendance” figure of 59000, surely at a time when Health and Safety get ahead of themselves with details, a more exact figure should be expected. It is not as though the tickets haven’t been paid for anyway.

    A very watchable match and a decent win, a shame it has to come, when virtually all we have left to play for, is gone.

  4. I understand Elneny played well. Arsene gets 10 million a year and he can’t work that Elneny is the solution to many of his problems until the season is rat-shit. I would have thought that being a top coach is about working that sort of stuff out before the season even begins. He only faces reality when he’s staring into the void. Jeez.

  5. Michael,

    There’s still respect and pride to play for. No one wants a CV covered in negativity.

    No chance of watching next Thursday’s match, we don’t land at Gatwick until 7pm, an hour to get through the airport and a three hour drive home. I would try for a pub near the airport but we will have a taxi waiting, no chance then.

  6. Well done Yogi.

    That was really enjoyable to watch, I know some will say its only Watford but we routinely lose matches to the Watford’s of the world and yesterday was just our players having a good match. Ozil, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang were a joy to watch just linking play and the freedom of movement.

    It was also really good to see Sead look more like the player that first started at Arsenal than the one of the last few appearances. Even better was watching Mustafi and Holding actually play better good. They weren’t spectacular but they were a solid base that allowed our attackers to play freely and Elneny was a joy to watch linking the defending third with the offensive players.

  7. I’m surprised nicky hasn’t popped up.

    I know the win is just paper over the cracks but there were positives including the ever growing partnership and understanding between Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang.

  8. Great post Yogi

    I have been AWOL for a few days since I have returned to Texas and had lots of stuff to do. I just read all of your posts and the awesomeness that is YW has not changed.

    I did not get to watch the last couple of games other then the highlights. Every season in the Emirates era we have one good run of results that help to paper over the cracks and we are certainly due. Our league schedule looks relatively easy until we have to go to ManU so this is the perfect time. Its also a perfect time for a run of good form because of the Europa league. We desperately need to win that competition to salvage anything tangible from this season.

    As an aside if we are going to be fair we have to be somewhat consistent even if that suggests an answer we don’t like. If Arsene’s tactics and lack of coaching are the reason we have struggled so far this season then when we go on our good run we have to postulate that he has fixed his tactics and “coached up” the team and made some effort to organize the defense. I can’t imagine anyone actually believes that Arsene has done anything different during these last 2 games. On the other hand if we are going to give Ozil and Mikhitaryan and Wilshere credit for running the team and managing the game and controlling the midfield and doing all of the things we expect them to do then you have to ask why they have not been doing the exact same thing for the rest of the season. I am not making excuses for Arsene but we can’t blame him when things go poorly and then not give him credit when things go well. If we do that we are no different from those who give him credit when things go well and make excuses for him when we struggle.

  9. @ C,
    The time I “pop up” as you call it, is when Arsenal is “on the back foot”…. to remind the doom and gloom purveyors that loyalty to Club, Manager and whoever wears the shirt should be the order of the day. 😉

  10. If there was one negative, is the fact that Iwobi just can’t seem to get it right.
    0nce Lacazette comes back I hope that he gets that spot, or at the very least Welbeck .

  11. Bill,

    Think the point everyone is making is that Wenger only deviates from his blinkers approach when his nuts are being held to the fire.

    It was noted that Steve Bould was actually on the touch line in the Milan game, giving direction.

    We’ve heard that that had originally been put a stop to by Wenger some time ago.

    So yes, if you want to understand the thought process, it’s that avenger, with his nuts in a vice, to save his job, allowed people who actually do know what they’re doing, to actually do their jobs.

    The downside is that as soon as any sort of run or stability is achieved, he switches back to his “beliefs”.

    IMO the dude is raving egostistical nut job.

    So that’ s the answer IMO, not some conundrum that he or the players might or might not do this or that.

  12. Beyond the passing stats, Elneny had 7 recoveries….I wouldn’t be at all opposed to Elneny sitting next to Xhaka and just providing a solid base for our attacking players.

  13. C,

    Exactly right.

    We don’t need every player to be Roy of the Rovers.

    Players like El Neny are invaluable in the make up of a balanced team.

  14. MikeSA,

    Yup, just let him do the job. Ofcourse we all would want Busquets but they don’t grow on trees so just having that player in the DM position to just do the job isn’t a bad thing.

    Give our attackers a proper base and more often than not good things will happen on the balance.

  15. Nice write up YW.
    Like C, I like Elneny’s game.
    He has good energy, has shown he can put through a pass. I trust him more than Xhaka.
    NM was a positive,
    And Holding is progressing well , and has a voice.

  16. MikeSA

    You have been around long enough to know that I am no fan of Arsene Wenger. However as I said if we are going to blame what he is doing when things go back then in order to fix the problem he would have to do something different and him actually doing something different seems extremely unlikely. I don’t believe Arsene did anything different during the last couple of games or the Everton game or any of the good games. I think the difference is the players executed in the good games. I don’t think we have the talent to do more then compete for 4th place over the course of a full season. However, we have more then enough talent to compete with teams like Watford or Swansea or Bournemouth as long as the players execute. The reason Arsenal has stagnated are not tactics or lack of tactics. IMO. I think the reason we struggle and the reason we need a new manager is because the imcumbent can’t get his players to execute on a consistent basis.

  17. Phil

    The incoming tide raises all ships. Elneny looks good when the team is playing well. However the idea that he is a difference making player is a huge stretch. Even Xhaka has done well in the last couple of games. I doubt Elneny would be more then a far back end of the squad player in any other big team in Europe and I suspect he will immediately morph back into totally underwhelming when the tide goes back out.

  18. Hi Bill,
    Rest assured, I am not elevating Elneny to African player of the year status.
    I just think he is under appreciated. He is a workhorse who I think would follow instructions ( if Wenger gives any ), and who I trust more than Xhaka to not make mistakes. Given our existing squad, I think he is a preferred option.

  19. Well , whatever problems we have , at least we aren’t Southampton.
    A perennial selling club, who could challenge for Europe if they held their talent. And now they sack Pellegrino because relegation beckons.
    Bunch of fools in charge who aren’t seriously chasing success, just transfer profit. Enjoy the Championship.

  20. MikeSA:

    IMO the dude is raving egostistical nut job.

    Couldn’t agree with you more MikeSA his ego has got in the way of Arsenal FC competing for any major titles for more than a decade

  21. Phil:
    Well , whatever problems we have , at least we aren’t Southampton.
    A perennial selling club, who could challenge for Europe if they held their talent. Andnow they sack Pellegrino because relegation beckons.
    Bunch of fools in charge who aren’t seriously chasing success, just transfer profit. Enjoy the Championship.

    Ever since Markus died it’s been down hill for Southampton F.C. I suppose their plight is partly due to them being a feeder club to Liverpool. Unfortunately we have our own bunch of fools in the board room of the Emirates. Whom are incapable of setting their sights beyond a place in the Champions League. Which barring a miracle will be our second season out of that competition.

  22. Bill – I wish I had a dollar for every time you have used the word “squad player”. I don’t even know what it means.

  23. All Arsenal players did a great job against Watford especially Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, and Cech. I hope gunners continue their winning form in the premier league and Europa league.

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