Arsenal 1-0 Watford review: Ratings and reaction on Smith Rowe goal controversy and ex-Spurs man’s torrid day
Emile Smith Rowe’s 2nd half strike ensures Mikel Arteta cele’brates his 100th game in charge of Arsenal with victory.’
Arsenal 1 (Smith Rowe 56′) Watford 0 (Kucka re’d card 89′)
Arteta’s team did miss a pen’alty and have two goals d’isallowed against a Watford sid’e who were reduced to 10 men lat’e on with the dismissal of Juraj Ku’cka for a second yellow card, b’ut not at any time did this contest loo’k as if it would turn into a land’slide.
The victory even inclu’ded a throwback to the w’in-at-all-costs mentality the club wa’s once accused of with Wat’ford unhappy that Arsenal did not ‘return possession after the ball’ was put out for a throw-in so th’at an injured player cou’ld receive treatment.
The incident was not obvi’ously apparent until Watf’ord manager Claudio Ranieri rais’ed it with Arteta at the final whi’stle and afterwards in his pr’ess conference (see below).
For all the patience Arse’nal exhibited, they lac’ked either the speed of pass or gu’ile. Indeed, the opening half-ho’ur contained more yellow cards th’an efforts on goal.
It needed someth’ing out of the ordinary to unp’ick a Watford defence that wa’s steadfast and true in its orga’nisation. That moment arriv’ed after 34 minutes when Danny Rose com’pletely misjudged a head’er and conceded a penalty wh’en his flailing arm wrapped itself aro’und Alexandre Lacazette’s n’eck.
Pierre-Emerick Aubame’yang’s spot-kick was driven do’wn the middle only for Watf’ord keeper Ben Foster to clev’erly check his dive and block th’e shot with a combination of hi’s left hand and knee, smothering the ba’ll as he fell to the ground. Foste’r then used his right leg to stop a do’wnward header from Gabr’iel at an Arsenal corner.
Watford’s applica’tion and dedication to the cle’an sheet could not be faulted but th’eir resistance was finally broken 12 mi’nutes onto the second half’. Again, it required a mom’ent of inspiration to force the opening. It ca’me unexpectedly fro’m Ben White, who skipped aw’ay from one challenge befo’re a sec’ond from Moussa Sissoko push’ed the ball into the path of Smi’th Rowe. He whipped a low shot ha’rd and true into the bottom cor’ner.