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Watford turn the tables on Arsenal

Written By: Robert Halter

Watford had lost all three of their Premier League encounters against Arsenal since being promoted, but the FA Cup win at the Emirates stadium last season was the benchmark for the Hornets to repeat the same success, end of January. In the first minute, Tom Cleverley combined with M’Baye Niang, who drove his shot into the body of Petr Cech. During the fifth minute, after Shkodran Mustafi brought down Etienne Capoue, a free kick by Cleverley, drifted past the right side of the goal. On ten minutes, after Mustafi was penalised again for a foul on Niang, it proved costly for the Gunners, as Cleverley laid the free kick off to Younes Kaboul, who fired a low strike from outside the box to the bottom left corner courtesy of a deflection against the back of Aaron Ramsey. Matters got worse for Arsenal, three minutes later, when from a Gabriel Paulista throw in, Ramsey missed the ball, and Capoue weaved his way through a packed defence and as Cech blocked his shot, an alert Hornets captain, Troy Deeney, tucked away the rebound from close range, as a disgruntled Arsene Wenger, looked on from the stands as he served a touchline ban. Ramey’s nightmare evening continued as he pulled up injured and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took over. On twenty six minutes, Cech made another save to keep out Capoue’s right footed shot from outside the box through an assist by Daryl Janmaat. In the thirty fourth minute, Cech was forced to push over with the palm of his hand, a cushioned header from Sebastian Prodl, following a left wing cross by Capoue, and the Golden Boys threatened again as first Olivier Giroud cleared behind a shot on the left side by Miguel Britos. On thirty six minutes, the Gunners were second best once more, as Deeney cut the ball back which deflected off Arsenal captain, Laurent Koscielny, and Cech produced a reaction save to beat away a fierce strike from Janmaat. Before the re-start for the second half, Giroud was sacrificed for Theo Walcott. On forty eight minutes, Alexis Sanchez fired a right footed shot from the right side of the box wide to the left through a pass by Mesut Ozil and then after latching onto Koscielny’s through ball, Walcott struck a low shot narrowly behind the back of the goal. In the fiftieth minute, after Alex Iwobi linked up play with Ozil, this time Walcott was denied by a block from the right foot of Watford shot stopper, Heurelho Gomes. A minute later, Mustafi miss placed his header out to the left following a corner by Ozil. In the fifty fourth minute, after Iwobi played a one two with Oxlade-Chamberlain, the outstretched palms of Gomes, fended away his effort, and then Gomes stooped down low to stop a shot by Ozil, after the ball had been put over by Gabriel. But finally, Arsenal pulled a goal back on fifty eight minutes, with a crafted chip from the right by Sanchez, and at an acute angle from the centre of the area, Iwobi struck a low volley into the bottom right corner. Watford soon changed Valon Behrami with Abdoulaye Doucoure before the Gunners took off Francis Coquelin for Lucas Perez Martinez. The Hornets later replaced Niang with Isaac Success.  On seventy seven minutes, Craig Cathcart pulled his header out to the right from a Capoue corner. Then in the eighty second minute, after a poor header out by Kaboul from an Ozil corner, a volley at full throttle by Monreal, was steered over. In a final Watford change, Stefano Okaka took the place of Deeney. But on eighty five minutes, luck seemed to be running out for Arsenal, as from a quickly taken throw in by Gabriel, the frame of the crossbar was rattled by Peres. Near the end of stoppage time after Mustafi and then Ozil, gave the ammunition for Perez, his powder puff shot was snuffed out by Gomes, as Watford held out for a 2-1 victory at the Gunners expense, as Arsenal lost further ground on league leaders Chelsea, going down to third place in the table just behind Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference but nine points adrift of the Blues, before making the next league trip to Stamford Bridge.