Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 2 Watford

Arsenal (3) 3 Watford (1) 2
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 26th July 2020. Kick-off time: 4.00pm

(4-2-3-1) (4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Nicolas Pépé, Joe Willock, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Alexandre Lacazette.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Cédric Soares, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolašinac, Matt Macey, Matt Smith, Bukayo Saka
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (5 mins, 33 mins), Kieran Tierney (24 mins)
Yellow Cards: Granit Xhaka, Rob Holding, Emiliano Martínez
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 51%
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

Well, this is it. At last. The final Premiership match of the 2019-20 season, at home against Watford. I think that we are all pleased to see the back of this campaign, troubled and unpredictable as ever, painful and pleasing as it should be. All we can do today is to make sure that we win, to at least try to get the highest final postion in the Premiership table; our opponents today are coming here to attempt to do the same thing, in order to ensure remaining in the league next year, of course. All in all, it should make for an interesting match, if nothing else.
Within a minute or so of the start, controversy reigned supreme! Alexandre Lacazette was bundled to the ground by Craig Dawson as Dani Ceballos blasted the ball over the bar; the resultant VAR decision was a penalty in our favour (for a change), and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang confidently opened the scoring for us. This certainly put some life into the match, and so early on as well, with both teams creating good chances for themselves. A messy business in our defence led to Emiliano Martínez clearing the ball with his feet, after a good goalscoring chance by Roberto Pereyra, which led to a long period of open end-to-end football, which was both exciting and nerve racking too. However, just before the drinks break, Kieran Tierney scored a beautiful second goal with a sweet left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner., after a clever ball across the Watford penalty area by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And so the open football continued, only the majority of the game started to be conducted in the visitors’ half. With twelve minutes of the half remaining, Kieran Tierney sent a quick ball into the Watford penalty area, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang trapped the ball, and as it bounced up above him, bicycle-kicked it into the net for our third goal (and his second) of the day. Spectacular stuff! And still Watford kept coming, despite being three goals down, testing our defenders with long balls into the penalty area. Four minutes before the break, David Luiz had no choice in this instance but to bring down former Gunners favourite Danny Welbeck after a bad Rob Holding error, which led to a peanlty for the visitors, in which Troy Deeney made no mistake from the spot. During the four minutes’ injury time, the visitors applied pressure on our goal, but we held firm to go into the break in the lead.

And so, the last second half of our Premiership canpaign started pretty much as the first half finished, with Watford applying pressure on our defenders. Within ten minutes of the restart, Joe Willock and Alexandre Lacazette were replaced by Eddie Nketiah and Sead Kolašinac, which opened up the game in our favour somewhat. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was unlucky not to get the fourth of the day after the hour, and a couple of minutes later, Emiliano Martínez prevented a certain Watford goal when he pushed the ball away from Danny Welbeck after a snap attack on our goal; however, the former Arsenal man grabbed the second Hornets’ goal at close range after a cross by Ismaila Sarr after a messy exchange in our six-yard box. After the drinks break, Nicolas Pépé and Dani Ceballos were replaced by Reiss Nelson and Lucas Torreira in order to try and stem the tide of Watford attacks on our goal. Emiliano Martínez pulled off a match-saving block after a clever back-heeled flick from Danny Welbeck. After winning the ball sensationally in midfield, Eddie Nketiah ran thirty yards and unselfishly passed the ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in front of the Watford goal with fifteen minutes of the match remaining. Sensing the tired legs of the visitors, we composed ourselves well with strong play, and as the board went up for six minutes’ injury time, both sides felt the wind in their sails for the final minutes of the season, but despite some real heroic moments the scoreline remained.

Really, in essence, this was a typical pre-FA Cup Final perofrmance by the team today. The visitors were quite sparky, but in the end we got the three points, which is what counts overall, making our final position eighth in the Premier League, just ten points away from the top four placings. Enough has been said and done about this season, let’s concentrate on the FA Cup Final next Saturday afternoon now. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London HA9 0WS on Saturday, 1st August at 5.30pm (FA Cup Final). Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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