We began our preparations for the Premier League restart with a behind-closed-doors friendly against Watford, which saw the Championship side run out 4-2 victors.
The game at London Colney was a first chance for those members of our first-team not at the World Cup to get some minutes under their belts since beating Wolves three weeks ago, and goals from Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah saw us lead 2-1 at the break.
However, after we made 10 changes at the break, the victors - who also began at full-strength - managed to overturn the deficit to pick up a timely win ahead of the resumption of their league season next weekend.
The first half was one we dominated, as despite not playing for 21 days, we looked sharp. Mohamed Elneny and Kieran Tierney forced Daniel Bachmann into two early saves before Nketiah went close when an initial shot was blocked, but the striker steered the rebound fractions wide.
On 25 minutes Martin Odegaard teed up Sambi Lokonga, who saw an effort from the edge of the area thump off the base of the post, but our pressure finally told three minutes later when following some nice build-up play, Cedric’s cross was cleared as far as Marquinhos 20 yards out, who whipped the ball into Bachmann’s bottom corner.
That was the start of three goals in quick succession, as eight minutes later the Hornets managed to quickly find a response. Keinan Davis latched onto a long ball to tuck past Karl Hein to equalise, but that parity lasted just three minutes when Nketiah rose highest to powerfully head home a Tierney delivery.
That ensured we went into the break deservedly ahead, during which we replaced all of our outfield players with members of our under-21 side, who got the chance to pit themselves against strong opposition for the second 45.
They came close to increasing our lead when Taylor Foran headed an Amario Cozier-Duberry corner onto the post four minutes after the restart, and that would prove crucial as on 52 minutes, Watford drew level again when Joseph Hungbo swept in a free-kick, which Davis steered past Hein with his head to grab his second of the game.
Yaser Asprilla then saw a good chance go begging when his effort was deflected wide, but just before the hour mark he did get on the scoresheet. Joao Pedro picked up possession on the halfway line and dribbled 30 yards before laying the ball off to the Colombian international who drilled the ball into the top corner past recent introduction Hubert Graczyk.
The Polish youngster made a smart save to thwart Pedro after he once again ghosted into the box, before then denying Hungbo twice in quick succession, but on 77 minutes he was helpless to prevent Pedro from getting a goal when his quality saw him cut through our defence and find the bottom corner to seal the win.
Arsenal: Hein (Graczyk 58), Cedric (Walters 46), Holding (Foran 46), Gabriel (Monlouis 46), Tierney (Sousa 46), Elneny (Lewis-Skelly 46), Lokonga (Nwaneri 46), Odegaard (Smith 46), Nelson (Butler-Oyedeji 46), Marquinhos (Sagoe Jr) 46), Nketiah (Cozier-Duberry 46). Subs not used: Awe, Cirjan, Ideho.
Watford: Bachmann (Hamer 46), Kamara (Morris 70), Cathcart (Ekong 46), Kabasele (Sierralta 46), Ngakia (Pollock 70), Kayembe (Dele Bashiru 60), Choudhury (Blake 70), Joao Pedro, Asprilla (Gaspar 70), Sema (Hungbo 46), Davis (Bayo 60). Sub not used: Marriott.
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