Well lovely Arsenal people, we beat Watford 1-0, but behind that results hides more than just a hard fought win. While many thought we might cruise the game, and the expectations have risen, the game went in a direction that was frustrating.
We had a goal disallowed due to poor control from Auba who should’ve buried it up front. Then the skipper also missed a penalty, which was really poorly taken I must say. We picked up a couple of yellow cards and 0-0 at half time you could see how it suited their plan.
In the second half we scored a goal with a lot of controversy. Firstly they took the ball out, we didn’t give it back and from the resulting throw-in their clearance was intercepted by AMN literally body blocking a Watford player, before Smith Rowe fired the rebound sweetly in the net.
Ranieri complained afterward and it made it all the more sweet. First of all their player was getting up, when Danny Rose was quite visibly telling him to stay down and fake an injury to waste time. There goes the sportsmanship out of the window. Laca saw this and thought “okay, we’re playing then”.
Then there was Ainsley taking out a Watford player. Was it a foul, I think so, do I care though? Not at all. So many times these kinds of decisions have gone against us. I like that we were tough. We were nasty, and sometimes in football you need that. So many of us Arsenal fans wanted a manager like Simeone that would “win at all cost”, so I won’t complain one bit if we opted to try out some of the dark arts to win a football game.
Then came a shaky period, topped by a rare Ramsdale mistake, which could’ve cost us. But what I really liked was Arteta screaming on the touchline to Auba to go press at the end of the game, so we can relieve a little bit of the pressure. He was clearly livid, and I liked that.
So why is this 1-0 win different? Because it was the kind of game where circumstances looked like they weren’t going our way – missed penalties, disallowed goals, excellent goalkeeping from Foster, but guess what, we still won the game. It keeps our run going, puts us 2 points off the top 4, 3 points off second and sets us up for a very, very difficult game at Anfield.
I hope we can go there and show that we can get a result against a real proper team. They showed they have their own problems in recent games, but even so it’ll be incredibly hard to win, so we had to do our job before that and we did.
Besides that, the premier league now is very different from what it was 10 years ago. A lot of teams that wouldn’t bother us in the past, now have big stadiums, more money, good organisation, and it’s harder to win games consistently. If you are off for 5 minutes in a game it can cost you as Burnley showed against Chelsea.
Overall going into the international break the mood is the best it has been all season at Arsenal. Hopefully we can and will transfer that to Anfield and not get swiped away. There are 3 teams in the league that are above the rest and those are Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. They are the real measures of wether we can be a top 4 team again. Imagine if we beat the ‘Pool next week, and we are in the top 4. It’s a dreamy thought, but at the moment we are playing well, if we can go there and put up a good fight, I’ll be very happy.