Arsenal travelled to Vicarage Road for what was supposed to be some relief in their schedule after playing Liverpool and Tottenham in back to back matches. The trip to the bottom of the table Watford was anything but relieving as the Gunners blew a 2-0 half time to give the Hornets just their second point of the season.
Unai Emery’s side took a 2-0 lead into halftime despite being outshot eight to three. By the end of the match, they had not only blown their lead, but they were lucky to escape with a point. They were outshot 31 to seven, the 31 shots allowed being the most Arsenal have conceded since Opta started tracking shots in 2003-2004.
31 – Arsenal faced 31 shots in their 2-2 draw against Watford, the most they have ever faced in a @premierleague fixture since Opta began collecting such data in the division in 2003-04. Barrage. pic.twitter.com/v6HET8uuEx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 15, 2019
Arsenal conceding that many shots to any non-Manchester City or Liverpool team is completely unacceptable, but it’s far from an anomaly for Emery’s Arsenal. They have conceded 96 shots this season, more than any other team in the Premier League and have been outshot in four of their first five matches this season. These problems are hardly new, Arsenal finished 11th in the league in shots conceded last season.
Emery had something of a free pass for the first season of his Arsenal career. Despite failing to meet the goal of top four or winning the Europa League last season it did not feel like there was ever significant pressure on him from the majority of the fans and press. This may be where that changes. A performance like this is one that can change perspective and point out flaws.
The first Watford goal came from a calamitous moment of Arsenal attempting to play out from the back. This was one of the things Emery stressed he would improve when he was given he job. Over a year into the job and the Gunners are still terrible at it. For something Emery stressed so much when he arrived and so based on structure, you’d think there would have been some level of improvement in the last year.
This match was the start of a run where Arsenal only play one top-six team in their next 12 matches. Emery needs to right the ship quickly and start picking up the majority of the remaining points in that run or the season could turn sour quickly.