Calamitous Arsenal surrender two-goal lead to gift Watford draw

Quique Sanchez Flores will be pleased with his side on his return to Watford. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

A defensive horror show from Arsenal saw the Gunners throw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at bottom of the table Watford.

The Hornets welcomed back former manager Quique Sanchez Flores who will be encouraged by his players’ fighting spirit in his first match in charge of his second spell at the club.

In fact, on balance of play, Watford might argue they deserved to take all three points from a thrilling encounter at Vicarage Road.

Watford started the brighter of the two teams with Gerard Deulofeu looking dangerous down the left hand side and testing Leno with a curled right foot effort after five minutes.

Tom Cleverly was next to have a go, driving forward unchallenged from midfield and unleashing a rocket of shot that the German keeper was forced to tip over the bar.

Despite the Hornets’ heavy early pressure however, it was the Gunners who went in front 20 minutes in.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring Arsenal's first goal. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Watford thought Will Hughes had drawn a foul from Danny Cebellos in midfield but the referee was unmoved. Arsenal countered through Kolasinac and the left back played a low pass to Aubameyang who swiveled on the ball before drilling past Foster into the bottom corner.

Ten minutes later, it was 2-0 when Mesut Ozil, playing his first game for the club this season, threaded a pass to the overlapping Maitland-Niles on the right hand side of the penalty area to feed Aubameyang who claim his fifth goal of the season.

Watford refused to lay down and almost halved the deficit through Deulofeu after Guendouzi was caught in possession but Leno was once again equal to the Spaniard’s rasping drive.

Going into the break, the home side might have felt unlucky to be two goals behind and started the second half on the front foot looking to change that.

They were eventually rewarded but the goal was more down to poor Arsenal defending after Sokratis’ attempt to play out from the back gifted the ball to Tom Cleverly who made no mistake firing past Leno.

Roberto Pereyra is fouled by David Luiz. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Arsenal had been struggling with the new style goal kicks all game and it was only a matter of time before they would be punished. It was a moment the Gunners’ Greek centre back won’t want to see again.

Watford continued to pile the pressure on a nervy Arsenal backline and had a number of chances through the likes of Deulofeu, Cleverly again and summer signing Ismaila Saar.

Arsenal were on the ropes and on 80 minutes, it was another defensive error that handed Watford their equaliser.

Roberto Pereyra bombed forward and sold David Luiz a dummy that drew a reckless tackle from the Brazilian that the referee adjudged to be just inside the area.

The Argentine dusted himself down sent Leno the wrong way with resulting spot-kick to send Vicarage Road beserk.

It was the third penalty Arsenal had given away in their last three matches and the second by Luiz, highlighting the problems they continue to have defensively, with little sign of improvement.

Watford had a late chance to take all three points but Abdoulaye Doucoure’s 90th minute strike was straight into the grateful hands of Leno.

In was to end 2-2 and while the home side were fully deserving of their point, if not more, Arsenal Unai Emery will be hugely disappointed that his side’s shambolic defensive display to draw from such a commanding position.