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Arsenal lose their nerve again

HEADS YOU WIN: Troy Deeney (right) in an ariel battle at Vicarage Road

POST MATCH Watford captain Troy Deeney suggested that Arsenal lacked guts. After the Gunners' last gasp defeat it was hard to argue.

The win was well within sight for the visitors after Per Mertersacker had risen to power in Arsenal's opener at Watford. Gilt edged chances were then spurned by Alex Iwobi and substitute Mesut Ozil, and one wondered if these would come back to haunt the Gunners. Busy and always asking questions, the Hornets got lucky when Richarlison went past Hector Bellerin.

Under no direct contact, the Brazilian went down and substitute Deeney struck from the penalty spot. Petr Cech and his defence were now under intense pressure and when an injury time attack enabled the unmarked Tom Cleverly to fire in the winner, Arsenal's misery was complete with another away day loss to add to those at Stoke and Liverpool.

Hornets boss Marco Silva switched to a back four defence, and the introduction of Deeney and what he labeled a " change in our attitudes," proved to be the catalyst for his side's fortunes.

“In the second-half we changed our attitude and played like we can play. After the 1-1 we waited for our openings, to create problems. We were playing against a very, very good team, but we continued to believe we could score the second, ” said Silva.

That mentality and belief proved to be critical as Watford dug deep with an injury time winner by Cleverly. Granit Xhaka switched off and stood still watching as the former Manchester United man hit the winner.

“We continued to believe, and in that moment we got lucky with the second goal, but we also tried to find this luck as well,” continued Silva who said he was unsighted for Richarlison's controversial penalty award.

“I respect of course the decision of the referee. It can be 50/50. It’s not an easy decision. But I didn’t see that moment as a dive, I didn’t see it as a simulation. The player felt a short contact and he went down.”

Silva praised his side who are now up to fourth in the table. “It shows that we are starting to create a fantastic spirit. After we got to 1-1 the normal situation is to try and protect the result, but we try to cause our opponents problems. Before we scored we had one chance that hit the post as well. This is football.

“It shows to us a big commitment, and it shows one more thing - in the last minutes we were fresh. We tried to find something more.”

Arsene Wenger declared Watford's penalty decision as " scandalous," and if as seems likely the review panel agrees, then Richarlison will be handed a two game ban. Scant reward for the Gunners however who will have to rebuild their pre-international break winning momentum if they are to stay in sight of the top four.

Wenger was fuming at the result and the penalty decision in particular spiked his ire. “The penalty? It was never a penalty. It’s unbelievable to lose a game because of that. It's unbelievably hard to take because we had the opportunity to win the game. We played very well in the first half and in the second half we dropped our level a little bit. Physically we were not at the same level and on top of that we missed chances to score the second goal.

“After that we were punished by a bad refereeing decision. There’s a lot to swallow tonight and a lot to be really disappointed."

Wenger would have settled on not losing at 1-1, and stressed on the need for his side to have been" calmer and not lift the ball so much, play on the ground and focus more on the quality of our game. think we became nervous and we lost our composure when it was 1-1.”

In his first Premier League start for four years, Mertersacker was the epitome of leadership and the captain certainly led by example with the first goal. All of Mertersacker's six Arsenal goals have been headers and this one should have been the platform to build on. The German surmised on what then transpired as Laurent Koscielny went off with a tight hamstring.

" With the injuries, especially in the second half towards the end of the game, we want to make changes to bring more energy, to make a difference at the end of the day. I think we could have done a little bit better, when we gained possession we lost it straight away.

"I think we struggled a lot in terms of that and that’s not our game, you could sense that we struggled a lot in those scenes where they just regained the ball back as quickly as they could," said Mertersacker.

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