Football News

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka admits Gunners were playing “scared” during Watford comeback

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:50, 15 September 2019

Granit Xhaka admits Arsenal were playing “scared” in the second half of their pulsating 2-2 draw at Watford.

The Gunners raced into a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before turning into their own worst enemy and gifting the hosts a share of the spoils.

Watford 2-2 Arsenal – Game by numbers:

  • Possession: Watford 53%-47% Arsenal
  • Shots on target: Watford 10-4 Arsenal
  • Passing accuracy: Watford 88%-83% Arsenal
  • Corners: Watford 7-1 Arsenal
  • Errors leading to goals: Watford 0-1 Arsenal

An 11-minute brace from Aubameyang seemed to have settled the contest, but central defenders Sokratis and David Luiz were both caught out after the interval.

Less than ten minutes after the break Sokratis’ wayward pass eventually led to Tom Cleverley halving the deficit. It was yet another error leading to a goal in the Premier League, the Gunners’ 14th since the start of last season.

Having conceded a penalty in their previous two league outings, Luiz made it three on the bounce, with Roberto Pereyra duly converting from the spot.

The Hornets, though, could have even won it late on but Abdoulaye Doucouré’s effort was comfortably saved by Bernd Leno.

It all accounted for another frustrating day in the office for the Gunners, whose captain Xhaka conceded they were overwhelmed after the break and struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Arsenal have long been accused of lacking the mental fortitude required to grind out results and the Switzerland international is adamant things must improve.

“What went wrong? That’s a good question. At half-time we went to the dressing room and everything was good,” he said.

Arsenal errors record

“Everyone was happy but we came out and played such a bad second half. You have to say we are happy to take a point.

“We were scared in the second half. We knew they would come at us and push us hard but we have to show more character and not be scared.

“We have spoken about it. We cannot give a performance like this in the second half.”