Arsenal 4-Watford Nil – Retsub’s Man at the Match Report

What a fantastic day at the Emirates.  The sun was shining, the football was top notch (well, Arsenal’s was) and a very pleasant day was had by the vast majority of supporters in the stadium.

Having joined a London bound train from my local station, I found myself surrounded by ‘Appy ‘Ammers. For 24 minutes I was subjected to Slaven Bilic’s claret and blue army and graphic details of how they would have sexual intercourse with Arsenal next week.  Or something along those lines beginning with an F.

Finally the train rolled into London Bridge and I was able to escape into the underground.   I made my way to Kings Cross only occasionally spotting red and white.   Once I joined the Piccadilly line, I came across a sea of red and white.  Conscious of my role as on-the-scene match reporter I decided to listen to some of the conversations around me to ascertain the mood around me.  My language skills are not the best, but I am fairly certain I came across Spanish, Italian, Arabic and three ladies on a shopping exhibition ahead of their forthcoming hen night.  I arrived at Arsenal station none the wiser, other than knowing that the bride to be was in for a pretty rough ride in Newcastle next month. 😀

I made my way to the ground, stopping to pay tribute to Tony Adams’ statue and awaited the arrival of my friend who had the tickets.  To amuse myself I decided to count the names on the back of Arsenal shirts.  Alexis was the clear winner, although interestingly the first one I noticed was a Kallstrom (something akin to Leicester winning the prem in betting circles a year ago). Two Bergkamps were spotted, although one of the lads was getting extra attention from the security forces who were frisking everyone on entry to the ground.

My friend has two club level tickets which apparently retail at £2900 each per season.  For this princely sum, you get a free programme, free refreshments at half time, and, I suspect, a slightly larger seat.   The tickets are behind the goal at the end of the ground where Arsenal always attack in the second half.  I have noticed before that there is a very noisy section by the left corner flag at the same end.   I hadn’t noticed before, but the fans in this area do not sit down during the entire match.

At 2.50 the ground was a little over half full, then suddenly it fills up very quickly, although there were quite a few empty seats.

Arsenal lined up pretty much as many of us had anticipated, Ospina given the nod over Cech, which gave us the pleasure of the Ooooooospina shout, as reported by the guys at Goodison last week.   Watford were very noisy, but Arsenal fans were in good voice and chants of ‘We’re the North Bank Highbury’ and ‘Come on you Reds’ were noisily chanted around the ground.   Thanks to the education from our exalted leader, Total Arsenal, I was also able to recognise the Ozil song in the second half.

Arsenal started well and looked particularly strong down the right side, where Alexis and Bellerin have developed an understanding which embarrassed the Watford defence on a number of occasions.   I remarked to my friend that some of the Arsenal players were extracting the urine out of some of the Watford players with some of the fancy football that was being played.  Bellerin made an almost Cruyffesque turn leaving two Hornets looking a little silly.   The  Watford right back decided to gain revenge by taking a kick at Ozil and was duly booked to chants of ‘Who the (back to the intercourse theme). Hell Are You?’

Coquelin and Elneny have developed a good understanding and really compliment each other.  If one got into trouble, the other was always available to cover.   The centre backs were looking very solid and Gabriel made a number of decent tackles, although the guy sitting behind me was convinced that Koscielny was Gabriel and vice versa.

Arsenal took the lead early when a cross from the left (Iwobi, I think) was met by a great header from our pocket battleship, Alexis.  Gomes managed to save the header, but Alexis followed up and smashed the ball home, although Gomes did once again get a hand to it.

Following good work from Alexis, Iwobi slid home the second, and the crowd were duly appreciative of the youngster’s efforts.  Prior to scoring, Iwobi had on two or three occasions found himself helping out in defence.   His passing out of defence was truly diabolical and I suggest he remains upfield in the future.

One of Arsenal’s big problems this season has been our inability to finish a team off when we have taken the lead.  We have either let a sloppy goal in or managed to get someone sent off.  But not today; we were on cruise control.   Then, with about 6 or 7 minutes remaining in the half, a strange phenomenon occurs in club level.   The vast majority of fans run off for their half time beer.  (Maybe they can squeeze in two or three.)  Given the expense of these tickets, I find this very strange.  Even stranger is that a large number of fans do not return until 5 or 10 minutes into the second half.   This causes a certain amount of angst for the fans who are already seated and have their view ruined by droves of late returning fans shuffling across in front of them.

The second half started well and following more excellent work down the right, Bellerin was rewarded when his left foot volley was deflected past Gomes.   The fans were very hopeful that we would do further damage to Spurs hugely superior goal difference, but, despite some great football, it wasn’t until the last minute when Theo slid home following a great ball by Ozil and excellent work by Campbell.

In summary, an excellent performance.   Everyone played very well.  It’s hard to pick a man of the match, but I would have to put Alexis up there, closely followed by Coquelin, Elneny and Bellerin.

A pleasant journey home with a bunch of Palace supporters completed the day.   No doubt the ‘Appy ‘Ammers were not quite as happy as they were at the beginning of the day.

So, onwards to Upton Park, for a game which will have a huge bearing on the end of the season outcome.   In the meantime, come on you Saints.

by retsub1

37 thoughts on “Arsenal 4-Watford Nil – Retsub’s Man at the Match Report

  • Cheers retsub… I had a bit of bother getting the photos over to the article but that kept me from being overly depressed about So’ton’s extremely poor work in the final third… Another 1-nil to the Foxes and Ozil’s statement about blowing it seems just about right… 😦 LC still have some very tough fixtures but they also seem to have a good plan and plenty of commitment and great luck on the injury front…

    At least we picked up a couple on Spurs…and, of course, we looked a whole lot better in our very one-sided match…

    Cheers for the description of the match but also the trip to and from the stadium and what it’s like in the fancy seats with the hard-core (extra) half-time beer boys… Alcohol and sports in the States are very different. We drink in plastic cups in our seats but maybe that could be a problem as in some places (Azteca in Mexico City…) I’ve also seen those cups used in place of a trip to the loo… I was shocked when I saw glass bottles being served at the Emirates but I guess it’s in a tightly contained area. Over here, the authorities would worry about the bottles being used as projectiles, in case the crowd got ugly…

    All we can do is take care of our own games and we did that quite well yesterday… No matter what, the better we play, the easier improving the squad over the summer will be…

    Like you say, on to Upton Park for some derby revenge of that opening day trouble…

    Thanks again!!

  • The editing was a cinch… My only frustration was with the photos (and the Southampton attackers…) but I (finally) figured it out…

    Cheers again!

  • Yes just finished watching Leicester, they really aren’t that good, just economical and efficient, plus an element of luck.

    The extra size seat, assuming it is a little bigger? Is a bargain. I remember being at Craven Cottage a few seasons back, when effectively you were wedged in so tight, one guy stood up and everyone else in the row felt the inertia.

    The beers which are already poured and set out are in plastic glasses, so not that posh!,,I don’t think you can take beer back to the seats

  • No more bottles? Hmmm… That was just back in 2012…

    Yeah, you can’t be too impressed by the Foxes but they have stayed healthy and very committed to that playing on the break, just like So’ton do…so not getting the first goal was a killer… I guess you also have to mention the referees (and the pundits and everybody else) working as hard as they can to give it to Leicester City. The Huth handball was hardly shown during the match but looks very bad from multiple angles now… I shouldn’t (only) blame Pelle (and others) for choosing not to run or otherwise put themselves about…

    OK, gotta get out on the snow before the sun melts it too much… 😀

  • I don’t know what to say. I can only pray for Usmanov to buy Arsenal and make sure Mike Riley’s gang never hurt Arsenal again…whatever it takes.. Leicester have had around million calls in their favour this season and we’ve had around million calls against us. Absolutely outrageous.

  • Fabulous report: funny, warm and very descriptive. Thanks Retsub. 😄

    You saw more Arsenal goals in one game than I did in four games this season, so you is a lucky man. Good to hear Alexis played well again as he gets us going. I did not see much of Danny in the highlights and you don’t mention him in your report: did he not have a good game? And you don’t seem count Iwobi as one of your best performers…yet he had a goal and an assist…?

    And how did Theo play when he came on?

    Cheers again Retsub 😄

  • Thanks T A. I must be lucky the only other game I got to this year was Sunderland 3 – 1. Danny played very well , I think the problem was so did everybody. I saw a number of people saying Iwobi was man of the match and he did play very well. His only problem was some truly awful defensive clearances. In fairness to Theo he didn’t see a lot of the ball, but he did well as did Campbell. I haven’t seen the full match highlights, but hopefully they captured the Bellerin drag back. There was also a passage of play, when Bellerin and Alexis exchanged about 12 passes, which had the crowd roaring

  • Great report Retsub, and great to hear a positive story from the Emirates both on and off the pitch. We have to accept that there’s not much we can do about Leicester now – we beat them home and away, but we have dropped too many ‘easier’ points. So the job now is to keep performing as we did yesterday, get the points, improve our goal difference, and see whether the others can stand the heat. If they can, well fair play to them now.

    Looking ahead, our stand out players are mostly young, many home grown/developed, and we have every reason to expect them to continue to improve. There’s not much wrong at our club, whatever people want to make out. But we do have to find a way to add that last piece to the jigsaw. And soon I hope.

  • Great review retsub,

    Pity that Leicester probably paid the linesman and the ref an amount of money to be officiating at this level, and that made me lose any respect even if they do become champions, this is definitely not the way to earn respect.

    Back to your review.

    The fact that we won was due to a highly knitted teamwork, which even the fans were confused if the defender is Gabby or Kos, as both plays and moves similarly.

    Also, the fact that the way we scored our final goal was from a pass from the deep from Ozil, to the subs Campbell and Theo, Wenger is going to have a hard time finding his best 11.

    Cheers, but we are still 11 points behind. Still pissed about yesterday.


  • Leicester’s win has taken the cheer out of our faces. 69pts in 32 games translates to about 82pts for the season. Don’t tell me they are a 82 pts season team. Retsub, not just an element of luck on their side, but an outsized dose of a season’s luck. Still, only mathematics can snuff out my dreams. The remaining fixtures say that a dramatic collapse remains a possibility. OTAAT (one team at a time) but I just cannot help commenting that the Sp*ds must be missing the very familiar sight of our heels. I know we will oblige them that very soon.

  • PE, somehow I feel that someone did something to the ref union…
    Luck of a season? No way.

    Also, spuds will look over their shoulders in caution if they drop more points. We have a game in hand, and will catch up soon.


  • I cannot comment at all about our match as I have not seen any of the highlights yet, but given the team selection, and the pre-match forecast regarding Watford’s ‘hunger’ for it, it went much as I expected.
    However, WHU will not be so passive, as they have everything to gain in playing for a win.

    Another grand ‘behind the scenes’ review Restub, many thanks for your time and effort.
    At least I have less thing to worry about AW’s tinkering on our right flank, as he is unlikely to move Alexis from there. So Bellerin’s effectiveness in attack should continue. As for Iwobi in defence? Not having seen it in action, but HT mentioned he is usually positive with his passing, good or bad, because he knows what he is going to do with the ball before he gets it. Perhaps, higher up the pitch their midfielders were quicker to spot it than the CB’s are? Or else he is just pannicking?

    No matter what people say about Leicester, the fact remains they have a style of play that works. I think I am right in saying that we are are the ONLY team of the ‘top sides’ to have beaten Leicester at home? Barring their their remaining commitments, it is still an amazing achievement, and produces the vital points that ALL league champions need to do to win it?
    At the moment they are playing the ‘occasion’, unlike the beginning of the season when goals were aplenty. Also they have a very astute manager who knows exactly what he is doing, and by just ticking of each game it is making it harder for pursuers to catch them. I think I heard that Southampton put in 17 crosses in the second half and did not get a sniff of a goal from them? That is solid defensive teamwork at play, not luck.

    Luck? Well every side gets some along the way, Officials? We all know they miss off-side calls on a regular basis – the sooner technology is used while play continues, and called back when an error is spotted, the better. Although it should mean that assistants on field make no calls for off side, as no amount of technology can recall play if a player was ON side but is denied by a wrong call? – but penalty shouts, etc, are much easier to see errors after replaying the video evidence. Clattenburg last week is an example. Side on view from various angles are not the same as the refs viewpoint. Until they(refs) start wearing ‘Go Pro’ helmets we can never be sure as to what they can see? I still maintain that ‘Clatts’ is one of the best refs in any Arsenal game. Yes he makes mistakes, but they don’t carry the same bias that others appear to have …. Riley for example? I wonder if he will be in charge when Leicester or Spurs face Chelsea???

  • Ab you are right it’s all about the jigsaw. My small football brain tells me the key word is balance. Far better to build a team out of a mix of youngsters (Iwobi, Coquelin and a whole host waiting in the wings). Bargain buy players who are hungry (Elneny Gabriel, Ospina). And established stars ( Alexis, Ozil, Cech). Than to splash the cheque book (check 17HT£ on a bunch of big named, big salaried players who are are allowed to become disruptive. I think we are almost their. The one piece I see missing is a born leader. I don’t see at an Adams, Vieirra type personality coming through

  • Interesting comments about Leicester guys. I am sure they must be getting a sympathetic eye from the refs knowing that the crash in confidence is coming, OR Is iT? I have caught a few games recently and they are a hard working and efficient team. I saw some stats ( lies, more lies and damned lies) somewhere showing Leicester have the worst passing success level in the prem, there were also some other stats which escape my mind, proving they should be fightng relegation. I saw something on the TV saying they have teams of sport scientists trying to work out how they are doing it.

    To my mind, they play as a team and wear their hearts (foxes) on their chest. Players like Drinkwater, Vardey, Fuchs and Morgan to name a few, who look like they would die for the cause cause. They are very efficient. If Leicester get a free kick, they load the opposing area with big guys Huth, Morgan etc and go route one. They don’t play particularly attractive football, because the majority of their players are not of that ilk. It appears that Ranieri with prior help from Pearson has developed s game plan which suits their style. Arsenal I feel are sometimes the victims of the opposite, whereby we have a plethora of talent, meaning sometimes plaryers are shoehorned into the side. Ramsey is a good example of this. My favourite player, but not in my opinion a winger and he will struggle to displace Elneny or Coquelin.

    . Add a sprinkling of luck and good fortune on the injury front and you have the ingredients for Leicester’s success

  • Retsub, that was a great read mate…

    A good friend of mine took me to Club Level a few years back, vs ManCity in the League Cup, when Coquelin and Frimpong bossed the midfield, but our finishing was rubbish and Aguero won it…
    Plastic pints at half time, carpet on the floor, escalators to our seats, free programmes, all very nice, but it doesn’t match the old Clock End, Highbury. 😊

  • Gerry, agree with you regarding Clattenburg, he is honest, which I don’t think is a quality that many other current officials have in England…

    Michael Oliver is also very good imo…

  • Kev, before I graduated to the North Bank I was a Clock ender When my Dad used to take me, we used to stand down the front by the corner flag, behind the manual half time scoreboard .

    When I began going with friends we used to arrive 2 hours early. There used to be a central entrance tunnel half way up the terrace, beneath the clock. If you arrived early enough you could stand behind the barrier above the entrance. It was a fantastic view, as nobody could get in front of you. Unfortunately the football wasn’t always of similar quality.

  • Don’t forget Arsenal Yoof are on (UK) terrestrial tele tonight – ITV 4, FA Youth Cup semi-final – BT are showing the other one. Starts 7.30, presume a 7.45 KO.

    They should have a full strength side, so a good game in prospect. And talking of prospects … Reiss Nelson is only 16, but may start, or at least get some time from the bench …. A star in the making!


  • Retsubo, I also graduated from the Clock End, via the Schoolboy Enclosure in the East Stand, to the North Bank around 1972…

    We used to stand just to the right of the clock in the ‘old days’…

    My Dad was always a Clock Ender, but I persuaded him to join me up the North Bank in the 1980’s

    As I got older I ended up back down the Clock End with my own boys…

  • Was really impressed by Willock in the last 30 minutes that I watched he marries great ability with a real drive and hunger. Unfortunately the red card pretty much ended the game.

  • Talking of referees, njk84, and I wish we could stop … but last night in the Youth Cup, well can I just say I don’t think think the ref has even heard the term ‘rotational fouling’, let alone recognize it in real time.
    In the first half there were at least three ‘City players who should have had a yellow card. Ironic then, that it was Arsenal that saw the red card. Mind, the Bola challenge was worthy of a straight red.
    Not that I think it was his intention to hurt the player, but the follow through with a foot raised on the guys standing leg. Very dangerous, and worthy of the card.

    A bit of naivety in the first half which led to their second goal, and a clever, quickly taken free kick.
    A well placed pass, and follow up, led to Asenal needing two goals to take it to penalties.
    However,in the second half they look the better side … up to the sending off. Donyell Malen scored with virtually his first touch, and set us up for what looked like being a grandstand finish.

    The critical side of me though does have a few things to look at:
    Why was Reine-Adelaide playing the B2B role when he is probably their most experienced striker?
    Why was Ben Sheaf not playing that role?
    Willock really showed his skills throughout …. but not so good in his decision making, particularly in the second half when he tried to take on too much … for himself.
    Both Willock and Nelson were on the end of some ‘they shall not pass’ challenges, and kept going. But I think Nelson is a wee bit behind Willock in the physical department, and it showed. He looked better in the second half when the game opened up.
    Bielik seems to be reading the John Stones handbook on central defending. Good for the most part, but a high risk strategy. Looked good going forward though … Stones-esque again.

    Overall though they all played well, but I don’t think the have the cohesive balance throughout the side. This led to some fine individual moments and occasional sound collective play. It will be interesting to see how many make the Iwobi breakthrough in years to come, while others slip away.
    Remember Dan Crowley?


  • 84, I was thinking regard of Arsenal, in particular last season in the FAC at Okd Trafford when he sent off Di Maria, quite rightly I add, and officiated the game in a way totally alien to the likes of Dean, Atkinson and Riley…

    Not sure how he handles other clubs when we aren’t playing mate tbh.
    By pen, do you mean the Leicester game?
    I’ve not seen it…

  • Gerry, to me ManCity looked more organised defensively.
    Bielik playing centre-half is a temporary measure I think, due more to the fact that at youth level we lack centre-backs…

  • Gerry,

    You really got me there. We love talking about bad refereeing. 🙂
    But yes, I wish I could stop if the standard of refereeing gets better, but nope.. There is no way we will stop giving the current standard.


    Yes. That incident p***ed me off and almost all Soton fans in the stadium. But Leicester’s fans were delighted.
    That was a clear handball, but I agree that it can be difficult to be seen from a certain angle.
    However, it was everyone’s guess why the linesman, who is supposed to see that from his side, did not do anything about it.
    Maybe they thought that was a ball to hand, but well, that decision does not sit well with me.


  • Hey there… Anybody home?… I can’t add much to the youth match stuff and what can you say about the reffing? To me, if at least a section (sizeable, maybe; loud for sure…) want Arsenal to lose, why shouldn’t the refs (and the pundits and the neutrals)…? 😦

    Anyhow, If there’s nothing left to say about the Watford match, I’ve got a bit of a discussion post ready to go…Give me a thumbs up, TA, or you could just publish it yourself…

  • Hi 17ho

    We have a post by our very own poet, PE. I could try and publish it via my Ipad, but if you have a bit of time, could you do it? You could also first publish yours and PE’s after it. Let me know what you think? 🙂

  • Hey TA,

    I don’t see PE’s piece in either my e-mail nor in the drafts, so it’s hard for me to judge…

    My post includes an attempt at a click-bait headline but then just asks about our midfield personnel (i.e., it’s supposed to generate discussion and get folks’ opinions)… All you would need to do is push the “publish” button…

    Since you have copies of (or can ‘see’) both posts maybe you can make the decision…Plus, the weather here is brilliant and I’m desperate to get out in it…so I’m unlikely to want to mess with PE’s until tomorrow at the earliest… 😀


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