An Achilles heel for Arsenal in recent years has been their defence, with leads so often spurned by poor marking or worse decision making. Ultimately, teams have known that even if they concede a goal against Arsenal, they will likely have a number of chances to equalise and then take the lead at some point in the game.
This defect was on show yet again in their game against Watford as the hosts made Arsenal pay. The Gunners had the better of the possession on the day and had more openings, registering six shots on target to Watford’s three, but it was the hosts that won the game because they took their chances.
Of course, Wenger bemoaned the penalty decision that got Watford back into the game. Richarlison went down under minimal contact from Hector Bellerin, and Troy Deeney made no mistake from the spot to make it 1-1. While the penalty itself was contentious, Arsenal should have taken that as a wake-up call and come back at Watford in search of the winner.
However, their defence was exposed once again as Tom Cleverley was given all the time in the world in the box to smash home in injury time. What will infuriate the Gunners’ fans most is the relaxed attitude of Mesut Ozil, who stepped out of defence and failed to track back, while the defence did not deal with the ball in the ensuing events. The space Ozil vacated was exposed by the hosts and the rest is history.
Arsenal’s defence has been so much better in recent weeks and they have actually looked solid at the back, but their defeat at the hands of Watford revives old questions and puts them under the spotlight again. When Arsene Wenger’s men make everyone think they have a defence that can function consistently well, they go and prove the exact opposite is true.