Watford v Arsenal

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Press conference

Wenger - My view on Watford penalty decision

Saturday’s game at Watford swung in a matter of seconds thanks to a miss from Mesut Ozil and a big decision from the referee.

Our Germany playmaker squandered a chance at one end and Watford immediately went down the other end to win a penalty when Richarlison went down in the box.

Here’s what Arsene Wenger thought of the decision:

on the penalty…
I would say it was not a penalty. It was a decision from the referee and that’s it.

on conceding 11 penalties since start of last season and if Arsenal have had a raw deal…
I don’t know. I don’t see any pre-conceived idea. I just think the decision is wrong and that’s it. It came at a moment in the game where it was absolutely important for Watford. [If there was] no penalty, [there’d have been] no goal.

on Arsenal passing up chances before Watford equalised…
We should have [scored], yes of course. It’s not the only major fact in the game. I thought we played very well in the first half but I was not so happy with the level in the second half. I think our level dropped in the second half and we missed many chances to kill the game with goal No 2 and goal No 3 - they should have been scored. After that, at 1-1, there was no need to panic. I believe that on the second goal we can only look at ourselves.

on having 11 players away recently and if coming back from international break was a factor…
It is, but if you look well at the game today, I think with a bit more killer instinct in front of goal, we should have won the game. That’s where we are guilty. The decision on the penalty we have no impact on at all. Not everybody is at the same level physically, that’s for sure, but I feel despite that, we should have won the game.

on if the Premier League simulation panel should look at Richarlison for the penalty…
I don’t want to interfere too much with the referees and their decisions and what’s going on. I just want the right decisions to be made during the game.

on if Arsenal can catch Man City, who have a nine-point lead…
It will be difficult, of course. At the moment we are not looking too much at Man City, we are looking at ourselves. We have to bounce back from our disappointment today. We look like we can make results when we play our game like we did in the first half. But we need to be at the level like that for 90 minutes.

The Breakdown

Analysis: What went wrong at Vicarage Road?

We had a second half to forget at Vicarage Road on our return to Premier League action on Saturday as we were beaten 2-1 by Watford.

In the latest episode of The Breakdown, Adrian Clarke examines our performance and also focuses on:

  • Our failure to get tight to runners with the ball
  • Alex Iwobi's bright attacking performance
  • Why we seemed to fade away near the end
  • The game-changing penalty we conceded

Click the ‘Play’ button above to watch the latest episode of ‘The Breakdown’ and then check out the following:

News

Match video: Watford v Arsenal

Per Mertesacker scored his first Premier League goal since December 2013 - but it proved in vain as we were beaten by Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Our captain gave us the lead with a thumping header from Granit Xhaka's first-half corner, but Troy Deeney's hotly-disputed penalty brought the hosts level before Tom Cleverley won it in stoppage time.

You can now watch all of the action from the game, including a bitesize clip below, an extended cut above and the full match replay below, plus Mertesacker's goal.

Post-Match Report

Watford 2-1 Arsenal: How it happened

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

See how the game unfolded with our play-by-play commentary

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.

WHAT’S NEXT

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)

Press conference

Why Wilshere did not come on at Watford

Jack Wilshere was ready to make a late entrance against Watford on Saturday.

In fact, the man he was due to replace - Alex Iwobi - was already leaving the pitch.

Moments later, Rob Holding came on for Laurent Koscielny instead. After the game, Arsene Wenger explained why.

“I wanted to take Iwobi off and they told me that Koscielny had to come off because of his calf,” said the boss.

“When I wanted to bring Jack on for Iwobi, it was our last sub and Koscielny could not go on, so I had to change Koscielny and bring a centre back on. That’s what happened.”

Interview

'It's unbelievable to lose a game for that'

A contentious penalty decision… a host of missed chances… a lack of composure in the final stages… all three played a part in Saturday’s defeat at Watford.

For Arsene Wenger, the major turning point was the matter of seconds in which Mesut Ozil missed a golden chance at one end and a spot-kick was awarded at the other. Richarlison won the penalty but the boss is convinced that it shouldn’t have been given.

“The penalty? It was never a penalty. It’s unbelievable to lose a game because of that,” he told Arsenal.com.

“It’s unbelievably hard to take because we had the opportunity to win the game. We played very well in the first half and in the second half we dropped our level a little bit. Physically we were not at the same level and on top of that we missed chances to score the second goal.

“After that we were punished by a bad refereeing decision. There’s a lot to swallow tonight and a lot to be really disappointed [about].”

Having pegged us back, Watford grew in stature and created chances of their own before Tom Cleverley rammed in the winner.

“[At 1-1 we should] be calmer and not lift the ball so much, play on the ground and focus more on the quality of our game,” said the boss. “I think we became nervous and we lost our composure when it was 1-1.”

Press conference

‘It was a wake-up call, but not loud enough’

It was all going so well.

Per Mertesacker, making his first league start since April 2016, had powered in a header to give us a deserved lead against Watford.

But by the final whistle the captain had gone from likely matchwinner to distraught and defeated.

This is Per’s take on the game:

on where it went wrong…
With the injuries, especially in the second half towards the end of the game, we want to make changes to bring more energy, to make a difference at the end of the day. I think we could have done a little bit better, when we gained possession we lost it straight away. I think we struggled a lot in terms of that and that’s not our game, you could sense that we struggled a lot in those scenes where they just regained the ball back as quickly as they could.

on the penalty…
I’m not sure, I cannot tell. Honestly, it’s so quick these actions, it’s difficult to judge and the referee made that decision. I think for us it was kind of a wake-up call, but it wasn’t loud enough.

on having the chances to win…
Yes, I think that’s what we lacked, especially in the second half, you know when we got the ball we missed a chance, but we missed as well to play, we missed it completely. That’s what we did really well in the first half, where we regained possession, kept possession, that was really good. In the second half we just wasted the ball and that’s obviously not enough. If you just protect and you have no chances on the break and you miss one chance to kill the game, then it’s difficult in the Premier League to win any game.

on being back playing in the Premier League…
I mean obviously it’s important, but if you want to make the difference on the pitch, you know in the second half even myself it was difficult to push. I have to do better next time, that is my target, to push these guys more that we get more out of that when we get the ball.

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