It is not just the defenders that are to blame for collapse at Watford

Two bad defensive errors cost Arsenal dearly on Sunday against Watford but they are not the only ones to blame for the second-half capitulation.

Watford got off 31 shots and you have to ask how they were able to get into position to have that many shots, I mean, where the hell was the midfield?

The first Watford goal came from an elementary defensive mistake from Sokratis and the second was a penalty conceded by David Luiz and they have rightly been criticised but it is not as if they got much help from the midfielders.

Every time the ball went to an Arsenal midfielder they did nothing with it, they lost the ball and back came Watford with yet another attack, it was wave after wave and for the most part, the defenders defended, but it was the midfield that allowed the Hornets to get into position to make the shots in the first place.

There was no hold-up play, no maintaining possession and relieving the pressure, there was not even any coherent passing of the ball and as for slowing the game down, it was non-existent.

The defence needed help and they got none at all, the pressure Watford exerted was unrelenting and it did not need to be, not if the midfielders did their jobs.

Where was Guendouzi, Xhaka and even Ceballos in the second half? Largely anonymous to be honest.

But they were not the only ones, where was Pepe? he has the talent to hold the ball up, to be an outlet but he did very little, same with Nelson and Aubameyang, they could see what was happening and the three of them could have done more when the ball did come out of defence,

My point is that the defenders defend but Watford has to get the ball down the field to then take on the defenders, how were they allowed to do that so often with impunity?

So blame the defence absolutely but be fair and look at the other Arsenal players that did not do anything to stop the barrage of attacks from Watford.


  1. gotanidea says:

    Watford’s wide players could bypass Arsenal’s midfield because we played with a narrow diamond formation again. Emery and his assistants never learned from the game at Anfield

    I hope they don’t use that formation again. The upcoming EL game would be perfect to retry 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation

  2. todd says:


    1. Gunnerphilic says:

      ??? Pink boots? Would you rather they wore very dark grey ones?

      But you do have a point.

  3. todd says:


    1. Sue says:

      At least they know how to win and defend

  4. David says:

    Irresponsible post.
    Apart from scoring 2 goals Auba worked his socks off to try and link play. He came back to receive passes and on one occasion when Nelson broke forward he offered himself as an outlet so Nelson could possibly go middle and they could make something of it.
    Ceballos was substituted with half an hour to go and did ok before that. He was not anonymous.
    Guendozi almost got caught in possession a few times precisely because he was ready to receive the ball from the defence.
    If u ask me, almost everyone tried but Xhaka. He’s the captain but does and has nothing in his cupboard to justify the tag. Neither the best player nor the most influential. His captaincy I believe is what is getting the team down.

    1. Gordon says:

      Xhaka is physically too slow to shut the door on counter attacks. He lacks the close control or one touch passing ability needed centrally. He is slow and reluctant to shoot from distance. The combination play of our midfielders is next to nonexistent. They need to watch the simple NBA pick and roll plays. Maitland Miles is physically weak in one on one situations and never closes down attackers as or before they get full control of the ball.

      1. Sue says:

        So, Unai has said every player makes mistakes, but they don’t keep doing them again & again –
        Since the start of 2017/18
        Xhaka:(Arsenal rank)
        Fouls – 1st
        Bookings – 1st
        Dribbled past – 1st
        Tackles lost – 1st
        The boy’s done well then ?

        1. GunneRay says:


          I swear to god, I have been saying for years that Xhaka is a liability and Emery made him captain!!!???

          All those first places must have got him promoted Sue. Lets face it, 1st is 1st whether for bad reason of good!

          The only saving grace is that he didn’t promote Mustafi to captain. God knows he’s got quite a few Firsts too and definitely not for good reasons ????

          1. Sue says:

            Haha there’s still time for that yet, GunneRay…he might even be captain Thursday night!!
            What a bunch of donkeys ??

    2. Aeontisty says:

      How cocky of you to say good thing about all the midfield players except the usual Xhaka, kudos.
      George ukaz did mention something earlier “how can a player carry ball all along without passing to his partner by the time he decided his partner has lost hope and it become a loose ball and possession that is the reason their passes are no longer coordinated the pressure will be on the defense” and this is so true, the main culprit of these were Dani and Guendouzi, the former would rather want to dribble than pass the ball for us to gain moment(am not against dribbling but there are times a simple pass is better) the latter takes a long time to make up his mind on who to pass the ball to thereby making the receiving player unconcerned anymore.
      The author of this topic is absolutely spot on, not only should the defenders be constructively criticised the same energy should go midfield and attackers.
      I do hope we win on Thursday so as to boost our morale up.

      1. Goonster says:

        Let me as a question. Who is going to play 1-2 football in our midfield apart from Ceballos?
        Guendouzi can’t run, it’s like is being weighed down, got a washing machine tied to him.
        Xhaka is as mobile and energetic as my dead great great grandmother that is No longer with us. How do you play one touch football with that?
        We have Koala bear ? Ozil, even my 2 year old nephew has more energy and fight than him.

        Willock and Nelson are young inexperienced boys that are being exposed for their inexperience.

        You need high energy / experienced quick thinking players. More Ceballos and bigger sized (Torreira). Torriera is very energetic and can do one touch football but he is as strong physically as my 13 year old niece. Easily bullied off the ball time after time. He spends most of his time on the ground due to his small lightweight body structure.

      2. Drunk on Daniels says:

        Well said ; what many fans don’t try to understand is Football is a team game. We win together : We lose or draw together as a team. People are hell bent on singling out players and humiliating them. The coach has no plan and doesn’t really know how to use his resources, He still cannot motivate his players and bring out the best from his players. Just coz he stands on the touchline and screams and performs his theatrics people start calling him passionate and how he loves Arsenal and things. In reality Emery is clueless and barks instructions and the players are clueless coz they don’t understand those instructions.

    3. Tommogun58 says:

      David I could not agree more on all points you raise this is a silly post admin,the defence is repeatedly bad Ceballos was trying very hard to get things going and tracking back to help.tHE manager should also hold his hand up regards poor tactical decisions,substitutions and team selection.

      1. Gunnerphilic says:

        @Admin. Kindly consider moving the reply icon to the center or the left. It gets in the way when am trying to scroll.

  5. Mohamed Aziz says:

    Unay out he cant even think out now before january luinberg should take the team

  6. Viju Jacob says:

    I’m quite amazed that our attackers are blamed for not defending – if only they received the supply to attack, the pressure would be on the opponents. Mind you, even with VVD in our defence, Emery’s tactics will make our team suffer.
    Xhaka was non existent, Guendozi was error prone, so these two should have been taken off, not Ceballos and Ozil. When the hell will Emery learn that it is our creative players that will make the goal for our forwards? Why does he want to make every player defending donkeys? Why does he insists on making our players play most of the time deep inside our own half, in the name of “playing out from the back”?
    The day the board decides Emery is not the man for the job, we can expect our club to be a force, or else every team will use us as their punching bag. It could be 36 shots at our goal soon.

  7. Am really not worried about those Watford 30+ shots. Majority of them were wild, desperate strikes into the sky and am pretty sure even Doucoure didn’t know what he was aiming or hoping for. I think it was the right decesion to take Ozil off, he was fading in attack and as usual, none existent in defence. The problem was Reiss Nelson is an absolute liability who contributed nothing on the day.

    I think moving foward we need to adopt “dirty tactics” like Atletico Madrid employed against us when they ditched us out of the EL. When 2 goals up, WASTE TIME! Take an eternity to take free kicks, throw ins, goal kicks, start going down with fake injuries, just do whatever it takes to win. Away matches are always going to be an uphill task,we need to accept this and do something different.

    1. Sue says:

      Well, QD I’m disappointed,, i was waiting for you to say – man, Nelson is sh*t ????

      1. ? I think I’ve come down on Nelson hard enough. Sigh, just what in the world is the problem with this team?! We replaced the coach, offloaded the deadwood, spent a whole bunch of money, yet the results remain the same. Every week it is GUARANTEED somebody will make an error that will cost us points. We have a squad of about 30 players, an error per game (and 2 or 3 for some idiots) means we might continue to drop points in every game till the very end of the season.

        1. Sue says:

          So depressing, QD.. after our transfer window (which was amazing!) It all seems to have gone wrong! I really didn’t expect to be so peeved, so soon into the season!
          Yes.. there’s a rotation of who blunders.. surely after Sunday, Luiz & Sokratis have had their fair share… up steps Granit next….
          I’m disappointed Pepe hasn’t scored yet… 5 games in and it’s all been a bloody disaster… gutted!

          1. Sue says:

            Also.. i know we’re in no position whatsoever, to laugh & point the finger at other teams, but… De Gea signed a new deal… surely that brought a smile to your face (albeit just a tiny one?!!!)

    2. Weedz says:

      I dont blame the forwards. We lack leadership and a commanding presence in our MF.
      There seems no DMF strategy is in place and I hope our first choice fullbacks return for the Euro league game later this week, because the fullbacks on display at Watford play far too narrow and dont use the full width of the pitch.

      1. Yes, and why didn’t Emery secure a new RB the moment it became clear the type of injury Bellerin has suffered?! This is the 2nd season we are going in with jokers like AMN and Lichtsteiner manning the back. This coach is for some reason, not taking that position seriously! Even if Bellerin comes back and is injured after a month? It’s back to AMN again…a makeshift RB.

  8. John Onimbo says:

    How can our attackers be blamed,it sad we have a lethal attack which is not fed fully,all we watch is players back passing,the entire 3/4 of a match the ball is in our half.Our attach gets minimal service,the few they get and utilise,are wasted by our error prone defenders.I miss the days we had abandance of technical midfieders who could dribble and run with the ball,instead of the current crop just looking to pass to defenders instead of forward thinking.

  9. benex says:

    Our midfield is anonymous, still trying to figure out why Xhaka finished the match, the guy is jess a joke, he’s a Zombie in our midfield, anyway I won’t blame him a lot, Emery is the main culprit, I don’t see the guy taking us anywhere.I pray he doesn’t finish this season with us

  10. asd says:

    the midfield of xhaka and guendozhi isn’t disciplined enough

    torriera should be starting these games – guendozhi is a fantastic talent but it shows emery hasn’t done his research again against some imposing midfielders Watford has. guendozhi will get bullied and will make mistakes as he is young. this is where xhaka is supposed to help and guide but he is useless , how he is captain is just daft

    with torriera arsenal are a better team. when bellerin return , miles should be given a run next to torriera

    xhaka should just be dropped. as for sokratis- chambers must be thinking what he must do to get in to the team

    emery will play torriera in the Europa league as that is emery’s level he just loves that competition and that is his priority

    emery isn’t good enough for arsenal – there isn’t anything progressive from him

    we don’t dominate games we lose the ball cheaply and we have the worst record in 5 European leagues in shots takes against us

    the biggest mistake we have made is opting for emery over arteta last year.

  11. Gordon Edwards says:

    Arsenal players showed no sense of urgency when beaten up field . They meander back so slowly that attackers have two or three unimpeded chances per try.Our whole team seldom positions itself within tackling range of attackers.We retreat to block shots on goal instead of charging down shots.We defend in our own defensive third instead of higher up the pitch. Our passing into space is poor. our off the ball running is not being encouraged or rewarded.

  12. CorporateMan says:

    Talking about Pepe, Im getting alarmed by his progress (or lack of it!)
    As for the game at Watford, the whole blame lies with the coach, 2 – 0 was a very good lead to take into half-time and come out with the appropriate tactics to see the match through
    Honestly, I thought Emery would go defensive and operate on the counter. Against a relatively poor-passing Watford, it’d be easy to take the ball from them and counter.
    So I expected the coach to reinforce the midfield with Torreira and Willock in place of Pepe and Guendouzi leaving Auba upfront to receive the long balls on the counter

    1. Sue says:

      I’m alarmed too!! I honestly thought he’d have scored by now..

      1. Nero says:

        Pepe isnt A STRIKER…he didnt come to take over Auba and laca job….

        People need to reason that, before they build castles in the air that pepe cant enter..

        Yes it comes with his job..he isnt salah…hes an OUT AND OUT WINGER…YOU LOT NEED TO GET OF HIS BACK AND LET HIM PLAY

        HIS JOB IS TO CREAT ASSISTS..of which prior to the Watford game, he had one in 3games which wasnt bad.



        1. Sue says:

          I know he isn’t a striker, Nero.. but he scored a fair few for Lille.. and he’s had his chances for us, but failed to take them! He needs a goal, i was disappointed with him on Sunday… we spent a lot of money on him, i want to start seeing results, now I’m sorry if that’s harsh, but that’s the way i feel!! Can’t help but think Zaha would have scored for us ?

          1. Nero says:

            You and your love for zaha,

            Personally am still banking on be terror to defenders..i beleive his finding his feet as per new environs etc..i wish arsenal fans would be patient with him…who we need to be imaptiant with is emery

            Seeing how niles was being slautherd, and he allowed it till 90 minute, taking of our best player cebbalos.

            Emery may needs to sit up or placards must go up

          2. Sue says:

            Maybe i am being unfair on him, Nero.. i liked what i saw against Liverpool.. he just needs to sort his end product out!!
            A lot of players score on their debut (look how easy Laca & Auba made it look!) I just wanted more from him, that’s all. Although this applies to the whole team right now (except Auba!!)
            Yes, Emery has to sort this mess out.. if we gift another 2 goals on Thursday.. the mother of all meltdowns will ensue… enough is enough!! I’m not a very patient person ?

          3. Dan kit says:

            So PEPE ISNT A STRIKER …

            Now that’s cleared up cheers mate ?

    2. Goonster says:

      Just imagine the scenes today if Emery had done what you just suggested. Going defensive with a 2 goal lead against relegation 1 point Watford would have caused instant meltdown among the fans.
      We would be hearing comments like “Emery is a joke, parking the bus against bottom team Watford”
      “Emery hates attacking football, he takes of Pepe and adds a Defensive player”
      “We told you, this guy is a coward, he is terrified of playing football, he is uncomfortable with skillful attacking players, blah blah blah”.

      I am now thinking that Emery does not know what he is doing right now but just imagine if he went Defensive against Watford. My fcking goodness, we would not hear the end of it from our fanbase.

      He is in a no win situation. Go all attack or defensive with our sh!t defence and midfield yields the same results.

      He just does not seem to know how to build and integrate this team.

  13. NazHassan says:

    Yes….you are absolutely right…

  14. Skills1000 says:

    We needed another DM in the summer..someone like Thomas Partey. Strong with stamina. That would have helped us push Xhaka to the bench. Guendouzi is not yet ready. You need to have a strong 11 to win the EPL. Emery is not good enough to take us to the top. Xhaka had no business in that line up based on his rash challenge against Spurs. He cost us 3 points. He has no discipline. No pace. Can Emery explain the logic behind starting Guendouzi ahead of Torrera? Unai should not last till the end of the season. He should be shown the door. We have an attack worth 180m pounds. We are a laughing stock. This was the guy that decided to play Cech in goal against Chelsea in the final. A match we needed to win to qualify for the CL. He allowed his emotions to take charge at the detriment of the team. We played away against West Ham last season with 7 defensive minded players. we had the opportunity to finish 3rd last season. lost games towards the end of the season.He could not motivate the team to get top 4. Emery, Xhaka and Mustafi cost us Champions League qualification. Why can’t he consider playing Mustafi at Right back till when Bellerin is fit? AMN is not a defender. Move him to Midfield and play Mustafi at right back. Play Chambers with David Luiz in Defence..Unai does not know what he is doing. Xhaka is very predictable. The best is to play him in an advance role or bench him. Torrera should be starting matches. Guendouzi should not start ahead of Torrera. Emery should step aside now. He should be relieved of his job. We need a manager with personality and ideas. Someone who has won things. Allegri, Enrique.

  15. RON says:

    Emery is a nice guy but he doesn’t command respect. Respect also needs to be earned through making good choices and good decisions. Emery had made neither so far this season. He chooses players that are out of form and out of position. Luiz is out of form so is Xhaka yet he persists with them. He replaces experienced players like Ceballos after 60 mins when we are under the pump and puts in a teenager (Nelson) and expects him to take in s rampaging Watford. Did you count how many times Nelson last the ball? AMN got done by Deleoufao so many times I lost count. Yet AMN was still there after 90 mins. Please somebody give Emery some pointers on how to coach.

    1. Nero says:

      What a good coach would have done, would have been to tell pepe,to help AMN OR bring in another player to help out on that wing, because he wad their greatest threat…but he kept on till threatning til 90 minutes, with no tactical change from arsenal.

      Willock who i believe in..came on and played like he wasnt fresh, he played like he started the whole match…very weak of him, he couldn’t use his youth and strength..

      For all those that thought nelson was iwobis upgrade..
      Hope you see his iwobis down grade..unfortunatly iwobi and pepe on both wings woukd have been a better arsenal…

      Way foward?torerira needs to start all matches,and ceballos and willock, then secondhalf willock goes of…ceballos was the best player against watdord and didnt need to be subbed.

      Xaka is a draw back the stats say it all.

      Louis has cost us 2 goals in 3 games, bench him.

      Amn is a good player but not a left back..emery is stubborn, why not try chambers or mustaphi there and instruct them to strictly defend, but he wants a play bombing foward

      If emery is too stubborn he should leave

  16. Loose Cannon says:

    When I saw the team sheet, honestly tell me which gunner expected a win? Not me for sure. A diamond set up with Ozil, Xhaka, Guendozi? A defense with AMN, Kolas, Socrates and Luiz and you expect to win? With Chambers, Torrera, Willock on the bench.And Ceballos subbed when Xhaka was anonymous. I suggest Emery just try me and my father in law in defense instead of Socrates and Luiz, ready to play for free and wont commit the stupid mistake these pros are paid thousands each week. The shameless Emery should quit today and take his hero Xhaka with him.I read that one player commented that they were scared of Watford. Then what will you do when you face Pool or City? Shameless.If the players are scared of their opponents, the just quit now, terminate your contract. I wish I could get my Arsenal of the past, bold men playing the game without fear.And now some dude speaks to the press of fear? I have been saying since last year that Emery is no big deal, just a mid table coach who happened to win at PSG due to one team dominance, failed miserably at the UCL. Why hire a continental joke when Big Sam or even Tony Pullis are available. I want a no nonsense coach who can coach the defense first, the forwards are skilled to score brilliant goals.Defense wins you titles. Two points dropped at Pool, Spurs, Watford. Six precious points lost from three games. The midfield tactics are wrong for every game. Top compact and narrow. And please do not speak in favor of Emery saying he needs time, blah, blah. Conte won the title with CFC in his first year, Sarri on the Europa in his year.A manager with pedigree will win something or show the desire to win.Sadly Emery does not belong to this category.#Unaiout

  17. Tommogun58 says:

    Pepe looks a little too laid back to me,There is one glaringly obvious player that never does anything during a game to get this team rallying,axahaka is the poorest excuse for a captain that i have ever seen in an Arsenal shirt,he swans around spraying needless long balls an d wayward shots,pointing the finger at others for his mistakes and has no impact on the game whatsoever,he truly is poor,I am so peed off with Emery seeing this player as our shining light that I think he should go NOW “PLEASE”

  18. Franko says:

    I saw this stats on Facebook

    Arsenal’s attempts at goal in the Premier League this season:

    Arsenal 8-9 Newcastle
    Arsenal 15-18 Burnley
    Arsenal 8-25 Liverpool
    Arsenal 7-31 Watford

    It shows Unai Emery is trying to play safe all the time given our porous defense but its still not working . Why not concentrate on attacking with pace, it could minimize the threat to our defense. Let Chambers and Luiz try out the defensive midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Chambers can make quick pacy forward passes as we saw against Barca in pre-season and he was player of the year for Fulham last season in that role. Luiz on the other hand can make charging forward runs to initiate attacks like a box-to-box midfielder as he did for Chelsea many times. The good news is that both are tall defenders who can also play defensive midfield and they can defend the midfield better as well as give arial presence in midfield than the midfielders we have at the moment and protect the back 4 better. This will also give the attacking players the confidence to do their job properly. We need to try out new things in order to get a different result from what we have been seeing since last season. This is my own opinion on how we can be more solid in midfield whether you like it or hate it.




    —-Pepe——Ceballos———Ozil (or Lacazette when fit)


    When Bellerin and Tierney are fit, we could try 3-4-1-2 formatiion in away games. This formation has enough defenders and attacking players to play attacking football and defend better.





    ————-Pepe or Laca———–Aubamayang——-

  19. Lucia says:

    The problem with this team is favorism. How does xhaka and sokratis play in this team. The earlier people realize that Nelson and willock are just over hyped English duo. I watch recce James,James of man u and Mason mount I realized how far back our own players at. I won’t even mention AMN because I don’t even like him as a player.he has the worse mentality in that team. Did anyone noticed his demeanor? I say get rid asap.kolasinac I don’t even know, when has he played a good defensive game for us? Emery should play holding and Chambers now. Yes I say it mustafi is better than Luiz and sokratis..he could do no worse than what they are doing at least he has speed. I will keep saying this toreira is not fit for premier league end off and that second half performance was worse we have played this season. No passion or whatsoever and yes it is easy to point fingers at the defense but our attackers and midfielders didn’t help out, nobody was closing any Watford players down. And that substitute he made killed everything. Why take off ceballos? He should have taking ozil and Pepe out, leave guendozi bring in toreira and one of Nelson or willock not both he killed that game with the sub. I know he played bad but guendozi was trying more than xhaka,ozil and Pepe did Niles no favor he left him exposed all game…thank God we drew not lost

  20. Sucozanthin says:

    Someone needs to let Unai know that we win more matches without xhaka in the midfield

  21. Abdul Razak Sesay says:

    Emery should have gone for soares in Brazil who was just for $40 million. He is a very good winger and can also score goals. Emery is just too stubborn and never want to learn.

  22. Viju Jacob says:

    Last season he sent Chambers out on loan, and this season he has played him only once.
    This season he sold Bielek without even giving him a chance to prove or fail.
    Now to say we don’t have enough players in out defence is pretty lame.

  23. Winner says:

    The stats suggest that Arsenal is just too open. Unless they change, it is a matter of time before they get a real walloping. My fear is that the coming old Trafford game will be when they get punished. Chelsea played like that and got a 4-0. One of the problems is unai doesn’t seem to know his most balanced mid field combination. Playing ceballos, ozil, gendouzi and xhaxa leaves the defence exposed.AMN and kolasic were getting no support. No one is tracking back

  24. Kendrick1044 says:

    Our major problem is just that midfield if anyone would agree. Which obviously proved how poor UE is as a coach.
    How can you ever partner two sluggish players in your midfield in a very physical English league.
    Guendouzi/Xhaka partnership will never work for arsenal.
    It’s either toriera/Xhaka or Toriera/Guendouzi.. I’ll rather still prefer Toriera/Xhaka bossing the midfield tho.
    With them I believe opponents will not find it as easier strolling directly to our defence area with ease than it is atm. Guendouzi is too fragile and inexperience to be a key figure in a team like Arsenal playing week in week out in a very tough and demanding premier league.

    1. Kendrick1044 says:

      I bet both Xhaka and Guendouzi will not even make the first 11 in any top 4 team in the whole of the top 5 European leagues. Tbt!!!

  25. Njoora says:

    I can only see a bunch of very lazy arsenal players from the midfield onwards. Apart from a select few such as Torreira and Lacazzette, the rest are very lazy to assist in defending. We therefore got the beating we deserve with our lazy players. It is time we deploy Chambers in Right back and get Niles in his deserved midfield position. Niles is getting wasted and might soon get a transfer for being played out of position.

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