Post-Match Report

Match report: Arsenal 4-1 Watford

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WHAT HAPPENED

We scored four goals in a single game for the second time this week, as we stepped up our pre-season preparations with a win over Premier League new boys Watford on Wednesday.

Picking up from where we left off in Saturday's behind-closed-doors clash with Millwall, Eddie Nketiah, Alex Lacazette, Kieran Tierney and Miguel Azeez all found the back of the net as we continued to build momentum ahead of the 2021/22 campaign. 

It was a fast start by Mikel Arteta's side, too, who stormed into an early lead thanks to Willian's vision and the individual brilliance of Nketiah. First our Brazilian collected the ball on the turn deep inside his half and threaded a fine through ball into his team-mate's path on the left wing.

Hugging the touchline, Nketiah angled his run towards the penalty area and ducked inside his man before rifling a low effort into the far corner. With the speed, accuracy and dip on the strike, there was nothing Rob Elliot could do to deny our young forward.

But, undeterred, the Hornets were still keen to inflict their own sting in the tail and burst downfield in response. Imran Louza shot well wide of the target and forced Bernd Leno into a low stop, but our returning German would be beaten moments later.

Under duress from Watford's high press, Mohamed Elneny was caught in possession inside our penalty area, allowing Philip Zinckernagel to level the scores from close range. 

Again, Arteta used the interval to freshen up his side and with the half-time introductions of Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe and Alex Lacazette, we came flying out of the traps.

Nketiah had the first opportunity, heading over from Bellerin's deep cross, before Pepe sliced his half-volley inches wide of the top corner.

At the other end, Ashley Fletcher had a golden opportunity to put his side ahead for the first time, but he dragged his low strike well wide of Alex Runarsson's far post. 

And just two minutes later, the former England youth international was made to rue his misfired shot. Lacazette took a free-kick quickly to release Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the box, and our Hale End graduate was bundled over as Watford scrambled to rediscover their defensive shape. 

Lacazette grabbed the ball and, after placing it down on the penalty spot, sent Daniel Bachmann the wrong way to restore our lead.

And it got better just moments later. Emile Smith Rowe steamed down the right-hand side and sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal to Kieran Tierney, who set himself before smashing a half-volley into the roof of the net.

Lacazette had three more chances to score from open play, firing two snap-shots wide and hitting the base of the post with the most delicate of chips, but it was Azeez who had the final say. 

Our 18-year-old collected a short corner on the right-hand side of Watford's penalty area, shifted the ball onto his left foot and curled a magnificent strike into the top corner to round off another productive performance for Arteta's side.

Starting XI: Leno, Cedric, Chambers, Mari, Tavares, Lokonga, Elneny, Nelson, Willian, Nketiah, Aubameyang

Substitutes: Runarsson (for Leno 46), Bellerin (for Cedric 46), Holding (for Chambers 46), Tierney (for Tavares 46), Partey (for Elneny 46), Pepe (for Nelson 46), Lacazette (for Aubameyang 46), Kolasinac (for Mari 64), Azeez (for Lokonga 64), Smith Rowe (for Willian 64), Maitland-Niles (for Nketiah 64)

WHAT'S NEXT

We host Chelsea in The Mind Series, presented by Emirates, partnering with the charity with the aim of supporting better mental health.

Following the Government’s confirmation that restrictions on large outdoor events have been lifted, we are delighted to confirm we can welcome back a near-capacity crowd to Emirates Stadium for our home fixture on Sunday, August 1.

Funds raised from the series will be split between Mind and each of the club’s charitable foundations who all deliver projects to support mental health and wellbeing in communities both at home and overseas.

You can still buy tickets here or stream the game live on Arsenal.com

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