Arteta happy we won at Watford, but annoyed with our usually strong defence?

When Arsenal took the lead against Watford in the first five minutes, with Saka and Odegaard combining for a magnificent goal, it looked like we were going to go on and win the game comfortably, but with our defence floundering, Cucho Hernandez scored a magnificent overhead kick to level the game.

It was great for the neutrals with end to end excitement, but with Arsenal needing the points to get into the coveted Fourth place it was very nervy for Arsenal fans.

Then Saka put us back in front on the half hour mark and we breathed easier and cruised to half time.

Watford had no intention of lying down though and it was looking like the Hornets could fight back until Gabriel Martinelli made it three after just seven minutes of the second half. But the game was still nervy with both sides making inroads. The Arsenal defence continued to look shakey, and when Sissoko got one back it set up a nervewracking end for the Arsenal fans.

The five minutes of added team was like pulling teeth, but we did manage to hold on. The question we were all asking was ‘where was our usual solid defence’. Arteta himself made a point of mentioning it in his post-game interviews. He said on Football.London when asked why he side didn’t look as controlled as usual: “I saw that in the first minute of the game – we could have been 1-0 down. We were really good going forward and we had all the right intention and the energy to do it.

“We scored three magnificent goals but we didn’t have the same energy and commitment defensively. When that happens, to win a game away from home, you’re going to suffer. That’s why we suffered today – because defensively we didn’t have the right structure. We didn’t detect with enough urgency the moments where they could activate certain spaces that we knew. That’s why we suffered. We conceded two and we could have conceded another one or two.”

“I don’t know [why]. Thinking sometimes that ‘yeah, I have the space and this is really good and controlling the game’ but they were not. I’m really happy that we won the game and there are a lot of positive things to take on, but that’s not going to be enough.”

Arteta also admitted that he was angry when Watford got their second, and when asked why, he said: “Because I didn’t like how we were controlling the game. We were allowing spaces against the team who, if we kept allowing that, we were going to suffer. I knew that. We had to put that right and we did it for certain periods.

“Then in the last 25 minutes, we lost it again. We have to show that maturity, understanding and capacity to control the game how we wanted to. At 3-1, after, we had to make 300,000 passes in the opposition half and when they have the right moment to come at us, then we can attack them. We didn’t do that. The game was open and you had the feeling that the game was open right until the end.”

So it sounds like the Boss is going to having serious words with his defenders in the following seven days. Luckily the team have a week to prepare themselves for two tough home games against Leicester and Liverpool. Surely Arteta will get them back on track?

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Mikel Arteta’s FULL press conference after Watford win –

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  1. Good good. Gabriel, White and Ramsdale were all over the place today, need to do much better against Leicester.

    Man United lost again, and next play Spurs at home.

    Top 4 is strongly in our hands!

      1. Seriously though, as they say, it’s ours to lose. Goal difference is improving
        and needs to as our defence was all over the place

    1. Is it too early to count Man United out of the top 4?

      West Ham and Wolves are definitely out already.

      1. We are yet to play lpool, Chelsea,westharm,spur, Everton, Villa and palace. I believe Utd are yet to play those teams too, technically we have all the advantage and it will be criminal to not finish in top 4 as things stand

  2. Lots of breathing space and developing into a situation where we control and hold every card. Toots and utd play each other and a win against Leicester for us will knock one or both of them out of contention, leaving us with a free hit against Liverpool.

  3. It’s always difficult to play against team fighting against relegation. I know the pressure was much on us, so it’s expected. Am positive against Leicester we will be more composed.
    It’s in our hands to lose now.

    Utd playing spurs next week and we have 3 games, get at least 4/5points out of those 3games and we have a huge advantage.

  4. I’ll feel better in May. Usually our defense is a strength, but they were shakey today.
    Attack looked good; Laca setting the table, Odegaard conducting the attack, Saka and Martinelli scoring.

    I’ll feel more confident when we can be stronger at both ends of the pitch. Heading in the right direction, focused only on PL makes things easier down the stretch and always fielding the best 11.

  5. I think Ramsdale should’ve denied at least one goal. Maybe he lost his concentration, due to the lack of pressure from Watford’s attackers

    We have to win against Leicester. Liverpool’s creativity in the final-third and their defense are much better than ours, so I don’t expect a lot from that game

    1. Yes Gai we must win Leceister. Anything can happen in Liverpool’s game but a draw won’t be bad. From our mach against Leceister, it’s going to be a busy football week for Arsenal and this is where injuries must be avoided.

  6. Having The intelligence to say This After a Victory shows You what a good manger Mickël is….A good manger Always keeps an eye on what havn’t been allright to improve it next time….He didn’t get ahead of himself or carried away and i love it…Against a better team You could lose the game for allowing theme to comback….

    1. Agree, a top top manager is never happy and finds a flaw or two to improve upon. From 20th to 4th at the moment, how many coaches can achieve this? Carlo fled, Nuno sacked, Ole gone, Ralph is trouble, Conte scratching his head, Brendon nowhere seen in the upper half of the table, all these Muppets were linked or preferred over Mikel.

      1. I think Arteta simply called it as he saw it. I agree with him and actually I don’t think he deserves special praise for identifying the problems. There was significant sloppiness amongst the defenders and Arsenal can’t afford to do this in the upcoming games.
        I also think it is rather improper to insult those other managers who have each had to try to manage challenging circumstances. Most of that list are top class managers.
        Surely, we can celebrate our relative “success” at this stage without resorting to name-calling?

  7. Whatever anyone’s expectations at the start of the season….we are now in a position where if we can’t get 4th it will be showing a regression.

    We are in complete control of 4th spot, even if we lose a couple….let’s not stuff this up! COYGs

  8. I’m not dwelling on it and I doubt the players will. Off days happen; most importantly though we came away with the 3 points.
    Another ‘cup final’ won.. 13 to go!

      1. I think they were playing a 4-2-3-1, with two deep-sitting DMs and a negative game script, due to their coaches fear of being embarrassed by his opponents…it’s difficult to get results when you display such tactical naivety

        1. I wish I could say that I was surprised that you didn’t grasp my inference(lol)

          1. I wish I could say that I was surprised that you didn’t grasp my reply was to NYG’s comment.

  9. We go into a different situation now, have a good rest, get over those injuries and sickness to have a full squad ready for three tough league games in a week, not something that we have faced that often this season

    It will be interesting to see how Arteta uses his squad in this next period, do we go with the same again for the first one at home, change it up a bit for the Liverpool game and see where that leaves us for Villa away

    Tactically I believe we will be more pragmatic than today in all three so Xhaka dropping back a bit deeper to protect our back 4 a bit better with Partey, a back 4 who need to be sharper than today, Gabriel’s a wee bit of a concern at the moment

    Ramsdale’s a question mark right now, he’s just dropped a bit in the last two or three matches, but I think Arteta will stick with him for the Leicester game

    But we might see Leno, Tomi, Holding, Pepe, Sambi or Eddie coming in for the mid week match, maybe even Tavares at some point over the three matches

    Ideally we don’t want too many changes all at once but equally we can’t afford injuries at this point of the season, Laca for example might just struggle a bit with three tough games in quick succession the way he plays

    We won’t be out of top 4 contention after these three games but we could be bang in it with Spurs having two tricky away games after tomorrow night

    All good fun

  10. White has been. bad for a while, he can pass but his defending is bot good.

    Ill take holding over him.

    Saliba must get the chance to cement a place.

  11. Great win overall despite some odd moments and congregations to coach, players and fans. A fantastic three points. Please, I’m appealing to Arteta for late defensive changes. This game would have gone down level had it been Watford scored their second goal at seventy five minutes. When the team is fading down from energy and pace and you’re still leading, it’s important that you make defensive changes to swap with some attacking players. That late defensive changes nearly costs us the whole three points today but thanks to God and the boys to keep the scores in our favour.

  12. I guess some of the players had Watford underrated, especially the defense,
    Hopefully in the next game, everyone will be 100% alert,
    We must be in Europe next season.

    1. Apart from an ill-judged cross pitch pass, compounded by not staying with Sissoko for Watford’s second, I thought Xhaka looked okay in his more advanced role.

      I suspect that he will probably be asked to drop a bit deeper for the next three games.

  13. Congratulations to Mikel Arteta and the players for keeping the winning run going. Good to see Mikel not satisfied with the defensive performance and wanting improvement. What were Xhaka and White doing for Watford’s second goal?

    1. I think Ozzie, we need to find out what this team does when they smell blood. We can really hammer a nail in and stick our colours to the mast (signs looking good) in the next few weeks. I feel the Liverpool game is a free hit for us if we manage ourselves against our closest rivals and below.

      1. Reggie, I don’t disagree; however
        to me the more important things are grinding out the wins against the teams Arsenal should beat, like Watford and the players keeping their nerve, believing in themselves and their team mates and going for it against the top teams either in, or competing for European places. Liverpool will be a test of this nerve and belief.

  14. I was surprised at how the usually compact and resilient Gabriel, White and Ramsdale were so shaky in the game. A bad day in the office maybe, but it wont work with tougher opposition and with Leicester and Liverpool next, we have to be much more careful. I am sure Arteta will have a word with them and rectify the deficiencies. All in all a great game and so glad for the 3 points well taken.

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