So we’re out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 loss against Watford, more than likely soon to be out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona, and we’ve got a mountain to climb in the Premier League.
We looked set for an easy afternoon when the game kicked off, as we dominated possession and created a number of half chances. Calum Chambers was getting a lot of joy down the right hand side, but we weren’t quite able to get the goal.
Olivier Giroud did have the ball in the back of the net at one point after a great bit of build-up play, but he was narrowly offside and the linesman called it correctly. On another day we might have got away with that one, but not this time.
We may have been dominating, but we didn’t look totally secure at the back. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo were causing us some real problems, and Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace and Gabriel Paulista’s recklessness threatened to derail us on more than one occasion.
In fact, the Brazilian was actually lucky to remain on the pitch, with a nasty two footed challenge totally ignored by the referee.
Mohamed Elneny really should have done better with a couple of chances, the first of which was created by some great work from Chambers. The Egyptian hit a sliced shot horribly wide from a tight angle though, when he really should have squared it for a tap in for Olivier Giroud of Joel Campbell.
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Some great skill from Mesut Özil created another chance for the new signing, but he blasted over when he really should have at least tested the keeper.
Costel Pantillimon was given a yellow card for time wasting, something we really would have liked to see more of throughout the game.
We were finally punished for our poor defending, with Chambers, Gabriel, and Mertesacker all combining to put us behind early in the second half. Chambers and Mertesacker doubled up on Troy Deeney during a long throw-in, but were still unable to prevent the flick-on. Ighalo then turned Gabriel far too easily, and clipped the ball past David Ospina to make it 1-0.
You could tell it wasn’t really our day when Olivier Giroud had a shot saved at the near post, with Pantillimon clearly knowing nothing about it. The Romanian flapped a bit, and was fortunate to see the ball smash against him and out to safety.
The next sign that it wasn’t our day was when Adlene Guedioura hit a one-in-a-million strike, hitting it so hard he practically crushed the ball. It was more poor defending that led to the chance, with Mertesacker failing to deal with Deeney properly and nobody tracking the run of Guedioura. He smashed it from distance toward the top corner, and before Ospina could even react it was in the back of the net. 2-0.
There were a couple of half chances immediately after, but we didn’t look particularly like scoring. The team seemed to remember they were footballers and decided to turn it on in the last few minutes, but by that time it seemed too late.
Second half substitute Danny Welbeck clawed one back with a good finish, and really should have got his second shortly after.
Fellow sub Alex Iwobi unluckily saw his shot ricochet off the post and back into Kieran Gibbs’ path, with the left-back taking Pantillimon out of the equation with a square pass for Welbeck. It was slightly behind the former Manchester United man though, and after being forced to swivel on it his tame shot went well wide when it seemed easier to score.
Watford’s keeper arguably should have been sent off, with the shot-stopper regularly wasting time. At times he held onto the ball longer in the second half than he did when he was booked for time wasting in the first half, and a little consistency shouldn’t be too much to ask.
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Watford were the deserved winners though, and if we play like that we really can’t expect to win anything. The defending was absolutely appalling and we can’t have any excuses, and we’ve more than likely just thrown away our best chance at silverware.