It’s time to address Sunday’s disaster class. A game we were obviously expected to win but were left with a sickening feeling after such a gutting and damningly poor second half.
Emery opted for the midfield diamond for the second consecutive game away from home, perhaps another indication of his dull and insistent pragmatism.
Mesut Özil surprisingly came into the side, deployed in behind the pace of Aubameyang and Pepe, with Ceballos, Guendouzi and Xhaka completing this diamond. This narrow formation contributed to our initial troubles, appearing extremely open in midfield in the first 20 minutes, allowing Watford to carve through this feeble midfield time and time again.
This lack of solidity was driven by the immobile Granit Xhaka, with Emery choosing to use him at the base a tactical mishap that was wrongfully implemented, and not for the first time has he made this mistake. However, Aubameyang’s excellent opener completely swung the first-half momentum and saw us seize control in the midfield, with Ozil and Ceballos coming to life and combining well on multiple occasions.
Whilst it was not always fluent and cohesive, there were certainly encouraging signs in this short period. Aubameyang’s second saw us cruising, and we appeared on our way to a comfortable victory, that could even get emphatic, after a difficult initial 20 minutes.
Our approach to the second half was nothing short of disgusting. A healthy two-goal lead against the side bottom of the league, low on confidence, lacking quality in the final third and increasingly vulnerable defensively, and Emery strangely decided to sit back and allow Watford to come onto us, despite consistently insinuating that he wants his side to play attacking football.
Sokratis’ moment of stupidity allowed Watford a route back into the game, gifting them an unmissable opportunity in a period where it had looked like they couldn’t convert a tap in from 3 yards out. Their momentum and relentless pressure grew, our stability withered as they pushed for their equaliser.
Negative substitutions failed to ignite defensive solidity and as Watford peppered our goal we grew increasingly aware we weren’t going to win this game. Luiz once again reinforced his reputation as something of a clown, and Pereyra took advantage from the spot. A horrendous tactical display from our coach and questions must be asked.
However, we must move on.
PLAYER RATINGS vs Watford:
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