Arsenal just about scraped past 10-man Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road to go back to fourth position in the Premier League table.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game, which was surprisingly thrilling until the last second even though the home side played more than 75 minutes with 10 men.
The game began with the Hornets putting the Gunners’ defence under pressure. Right there we thought the tone of the game had been set.
However, in the 10th minute, just as when Ben Foster was trying to clear his line following a Daryl Janmaat back pass, Aubameyang came from the blind side and charged his clearance. The ricochet ended up in the back of the net to hand the away side a lead.
Seconds later, Troy Deeney elbowed Lucas Torreira off the ball and referee felt it was enough to send the Watford captain for an early shower.
The home side did fight their way back and created few good chances, but Bernd Leno was having a good day in goal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles made a goal-saving block late on the preserve the Gunners’ lead.
On the other hand, Unai Emery’s men were wasteful when space was provided to them on the counter.
All in all, Arsenal managed to get the three points that would give them some confidence going into that tough away game at Napoli.
Here’s how we rated their performance:
Bernd Leno - 7
Had a scary moment with the ball at his feet early on, but got away with it. Made two good saves to keep his team intact.
Shkodran Mustafi - 6
He switched from right-back to centre-back in the game but defended well. One of the better performances from the German defender.
Konstantinos Mavropanos - 5
Didn’t have a comfortable game as he was physically tested by Andre Gray. Subbed off at the hour mark.
Laurent Koscielny - 6
The Frenchman was also physically tested against Gray, but his experience helped him to defend various situations.
Nacho Monreal - 6
He switched from left-back to left-sided centre-back and did a decent job. His versatility is key to Arsenal.
Lucas Torreira - 4
He was elbowed by Deeney that led to the latter getting sent off. Other than that, the Uruguayan had an average game and was subbed off at half time.
Granit Xhaka - 5
Could have controlled the midfield better but the manager’s constant change in systems didn’t help the cause.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan - 6
Had one chance saved from point-blank range. His positions kept changing throughout the game as well, but he remained a threat to the Watford back line without the end product.
Aaron Ramsey - 6
He worked hard to link the play up front. His position changed after half time and things went downhill. Eventually subbed off with 22 minutes to go.
Alex Iwobi - 5
Wasted many good opportunities on the counter to hurt Watford. He needs to work on his decision-making.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 7
Closed down Foster to inadvertently score the only goal of the game. Missed two good chances to kill the game off.
(SUB) Mesut Ozil - 4
Came on at half time to give attacking impetus to the team, but the German didn’t really do that. Huffed and puffed.
(SUB) Matteo Guendouzi - 4
Came on to bring some stability to the midfield. But the youngster wasn’t able to. Watford played well with 10 men.
(SUB) Ainsley Maitland-Niles - 6
He came on and defended well on the right-hand side. Made one goal-saving block.