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By Martin Keown
Former Arsenal shield and MOTD2 pundit
I had been screaming at the TV screen while I watched the second half of Arsenal’s draw
Since Opta’s records began in 2003 with the Hornets handling 31 shots and 23 of these coming after the fracture, statistically it had been the worst defensive display by the Gunners.
Seeing them at the production workplace that was MOTD2, it certainly felt like that.
From having their opponents Arsenal inexplicably handed Watford a method back in the match in the way when they surrendered after trying to play their area out of a goal-kick.
But what made things worse was that Unai Emery’s group couldn’t react when things went wrong. Rather they disintegrated.
This one mistake was enough to derail them completely. At 1 moment, all their confidence evaporated. Following that, they weren’t able to make a decision, and they could not make a pass.
Their vanished. They had been fortunate to concede yet another target – after another ridiculous filthy from a penalty by David Luiz – and were hanging for a point against the Premier League side.
It could easily have been a great deal worse.
As a team, the collective brain of Arsenal deserted them in the second half. I had been looking at them thinking how are they conceding distance, and wondering exactly who was picking up who at the box.
There seemed to be a fear that gripped their players, something their seasoned Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka admitted.
We can all see it too, and it is actually stressing for Emery. I believe the second half was the hardest 45 minutes he’s had since the Arsenal job was taken by him in the summer of 2018.
Emery knows he’s got to restore confidence in his players’ hearts and minds, and put together a strategy.
He’s got to work through exactly that which Arsenal are doing wrong, and work out whether they’re good enough to play the way he needs them to play – because it’s similar to watching schoolboys sometimes when they try to bring out the ball from the rear.
Arsenal had had a warning from the first half, even when they tried to play from a goal-kick and Matteo Guendouzi was captured in possession.
They didn’t learn from their mistake. Rather it, and eventually handed Watford a route back into the game.
Yes , there was a feeling that Gerard Deulofeu was in the box once he intercepted Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s clearance to install Tom Cleverley to make it 2-1, but it was a choice that is totally moot to perform like that in the first location.
I had been a participant when the laws have changed – from picking up back-passes in 1992, such as when goalkeepers were stopped.
There wasn’t any choice then, you needed to alter how you played, and the way the team played with too.
But in such a situation, teams do have a selection. You don’t need to play passes inside your area from goal-kicks, just because today you can.
I believe we’re in a little bit of an experimental phase with a few teams doing it when it doesn’t suit them, and others performing it.
The latter proved to be the case for Arsenal on Sunday, if they were architects of their own downfall.
I admire that they are attempting to perform out of defence but, if they really wished to do there, there was yet another pass on for Sokratis – broad into right-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles, which was a way of doing it.
In the event you do what Arsenal get it wrong and did it is funny and you seem stupid.
Because if you mess up, you’re giving your opponent the ball on the border of your own area, It’s crazy soccer, really – and it ends with a tap-in being conceded by you.
If Arsenal ready for this match by practicing passing away of the trunk, they did not appear to get to the next point, which would have been’when we lose it, what happens ‘
There were not any responses from the Gunners when Watford pulled back a goal. They had no way of viewing the match out.
They tore up their previous strategy, which was to maneuver on the ball, and appeared to alter their thinking ‘let go ‘.
But when you do so, you have to do it as a team, and move the pitch up.
You might attempt to target one side, so you’ve got the numbers to find the knockdowns, hold up the ball there and squeeze the resistance in that region.
Arsenal didn’t adapt their form to do that in any fashion.
Instead they played chunks into isolated strikers, and everyone else remained rooted to the spot in heavy positions, still on the edge of their box.
Each portion of the group disconnected, which meant they were not able to keep ownership and had been strung out – it fell from 57% from the first half after the fracture of 37%.
Things got really bad for Arsenal, it was almost with Watford attacks coming one. It was relentless.
When that’s currently happening to your group, as a player that you would like to have control. You create yourself more streamlined as a device, and remain in touch with each other.
Arsenal’s game management was non-existent. You needed binoculars to find out their players In the event you were in their defence, they were far away.
That is all pretty basic stuff, and a lot of the time, if you’re keeping the ideal distance between, say.
When it doesn’t, you concede opportunities in the speed Arsenal were in the second half.
Alarm bells should be ringing for Emery, and he needs to get on the training ground and sort out matters.
Watford could have won – and they deserved to.
Arsenal have already suffered 20 off Premier League beats in only over two seasons, and this is simply not good enough for a team that wishes to make the top .
The thing is that his side have huge issues defensively, and they do not appear to be improving, although emery has only been in charge for one of those attempts. In reality they seem to be getting worse.
Martin Keown was talking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
While Steve Smith won over English crowds after the ball-tampering scandal, David Warner endured a torturous Ashes.
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