Per Mertesacker marked his first Premier League start in 532 days with his first goal in 869 days - but we left Watford with nothing.
Our fluid football caught the eye in the first half but it was a rudimentary effort that separated the sides at the break after Mertesacker leapt high to power home Granit Xhaka’s corner.
An honourable mention goes to Alex Iwobi, whose strength and persistence earned us the corner.
Watford demonstrated why they’ve ruffled a few feathers this season, attacking with pace and purpose down the flanks with Richarlison to the fore. But they should have been out of the game before they equalised.
Hector Bellerin shot just wide, Heurelho Gomes produced a brilliant save to deny Iwobi and Mesut Ozil squandered a great chance after Iwobi picked him out inside the box.
We were made to rue that miss within seconds.
Richarlison and Bellerin went shoulder to shoulder, the Watford winger went down and the referee pointed to the spot. It looked a harsh decision; Troy Deeney took full advantage, sending Petr Cech the wrong way.
Buoyed by their recovery, Watford came on strong. One shot ricocheted off Mertesacker and bounced off the post. Then Richarlison fired over the bar from close range, before Andre Carrillo fizzed a shot over from further out.
A game that looked ours for the taking for so long was in danger of slipping away completely. And it did when Tom Cleverley rifled home a loose ball in stoppage time.
AS IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
This result leaves us in sixth place in the Premier League, and still without a win on the road in the top flight this season. We’re nine points behind the league leaders, Manchester City.
This away defeat will be followed by two more games on the road.
We head to Serbia for Thursday’s Europa League game against Red Star Belgrade, and that’s followed by a trip to Merseyside to face Everton.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Per Mertesacker’s goal against Watford was his first for us since the 2015 FA Cup final against Aston Villa
- Per’s previous goal in the league came was Manchester City in December 2013
- Per’s six Premier League goals have all been headers
- Since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, we’ve scored more headed goals in the Premier League than any other side (35) - with Olivier Giroud netting 14 of them
- Watford’s equaliser was the first we’ve conceded in the top flight in 444 minutes of action
- We lost to a stoppage-time winner in the league for the first time since January 2012 (Bobby Zamora for Fulham)
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