Arsenal stung by the Hornets in costly home defeat
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Watford in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
It leaves the Gunners nine points behind the leaders Chelsea going into Saturday’s match between the teams at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues drew with Liverpool 1-1 at Anfield tonight.
Tottenham Hotspur have moved above Arsenal into second place in the table after a goalless draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light tonight.
The Gunners produced a woeful first half performance to trail the Hornets by two goals at the interval.
Younes Kaboul opened he scoring for the visitors in the 10th minute, when his long-range free kick deflected into the net off Aaron Ramsey and beat Petr Cech.
Unfortunately, that goal didn’t galvanise Arsenal into action and they fell two goals behind three minutes later.
Troy Deeney tapped in from the six yard line. After a weaving run from Etienne Capoue’s ended with his shot being parried by Cech, but falling kindly into the path of Deeney for an easy finish.
Arsenal’s problems continued with Aaron Ramsey hobbling off to be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Gunners enjoyed plenty of possession for the remainder of the half, but rarely looked like reducing the arrears.
Arsenal failed to get a shot on target in the first 45 minutes
Indeed they were grateful to Cech for making a couple of fine saves to keep the Gunners only two goals behind, as Watford continued to look the more threatening side.
First he tipped Sebastian Prodl’s looping header over the crossbar and then pushed away Daryl Janmaat’s curling shot.
Arsene Wenger serving the second of his four match touchline ban after being sent off in the last home match against Burnley made a half-time substitution.
He took off the ineffective Olivier Giroud and replaced him with Theo Walcott.
Walcott should have made an immediate impact, but shot straight at the legs of Heurelho Gomes when played through on the right hand side of the penalty area.
Gomes also made a sharp save Alex Iwobi and pushed away a shot from Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal’s pressure finally paid off in the 58th minute with Alex Iwobi converting an Alexis Sanchez cross.
But the Gunners were unable to complete a comeback.
The closest they came to salvaging a point was a Lucas Perez shot that crashed off the crossbar.
Arsenal had gone five league fixtures without defeat since the back-to-back away defeats against Everton and Manchester City in December.
It was the first home league defeat for the Gunners since losing to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season in August.
For Watford the win ended a run of seven-league matches without a victory. It was also their first away league win against Arsenal since 1988.
Next up Arsenal head to leaders Chelsea for the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
The Blues still have a commanding lead at the top of the table, despite dropping two points against Liverpool. A late penalty miss by Diego Costa costing Chelsea the chance to open up an eleven point gap at the top of the table.
Arsenal: Cech 7, Gabriel 4, Koscielny 6, Mustafi 6, Monreal 5, Ramsey 4 (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Coquelin 5 (Perez), Iwobi 7, Ozil 5, Giroud 4 (Walcott), Sanchez 7