It is difficult to take home any positives from Arsenal’s performance at Vicarage Road. And unfortunately, this loss has unmistakable similarities to Arsenal’s visit to Goodison Park last season. Last season, that game marked the beginning of the end for Arsene Wenger. It plagued him up until the very end of the 2016/17 season, and maybe even till today. There is this aura, that the real Arsenal are finally back, only perhaps a little sooner than expected.
There were many occasions where they had the chance to put the game to rest. But the usual mediocrity got the better them. The game hinged upon a through ball from Alex Iwobi, where he handed a gorgeous one-on-one for Mesut Özil. With a player of his talent, Özil’s weak shot straight to Heurelho Gomes was, frankly, woeful. Wenger’s starting XI did not feature either Alexis Sanchez and Özil, mostly because of the international break. With Aaron Ramsey also ruled out, Arsenal did not have the creativity to afford to squander such chances.
What is more baffling is Wenger with all his decades of managing prowess deemed it best to replace Alexander Lacazette with Olivier Giroud at the 68th minute. A premeditated change, which in no way made a difference for the better. Except of course if you were to consider the predictable hugging and flailing in front of defenders in anticipation of an ball played up from defence. Giroud is good in the final third. And this was clearly a game where more creativity was needed in the midfield.
With such aimless management, it will be painful to see Wenger failing to hold a candle to the likes of Pep Guardiola and his juggernaut team for the rest of this season. Even though Watford did not win elegantly, Arsenal should not really expect to be outplayed by them. It was up to Wenger’s men to establish dominance, and carry the momentum through the break. Unfortunately, for the fans, it will not be surprising to hear him, once again, complain about the player’s mentality.
This weekend was the perfect opportunity to establish dominance for the top four race in the table: To upend Chelsea upon its defeat to Crystal Palace, and give the fans hope of better things to come. Instead, Arsenal are here, sixth, level on points with Burnley, behind Watford and Spurs, facing Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. Pretty deserved, I would say.
Arsenal fans, what do you make of these comments? Let us know in the comments below!