Arsenal capitulation in Watford on Super Sunday was like seeing a’semi-pro’ group, states Graeme Souness.
Following being 2-0 up in half-time via a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double, Arsenal hauled the points away. Sokratis Papastathopoulos attempted to play for Tom Cleverley, only from the trunk to capitalise and halve the deficit, even until David Luiz gave away.
Arsenal have now conceded seven goals in their last few games and Souness did not hold back in his assessment of the Gunners in the Sky Sports studio.
“They capitulated in the second halfof Arsenal. They didn’t win a struggle. You have to be scratching your head if you’re an Arsenal supporter watching that. It’s two teams. It’s like here’s the team at the first half, along with a second one after half-time. Proper teams do not play like this.
“Arsenal in the second half were like a semi-professional group playing soccer. That I mean that they weren’t learning from the errors they were performing time and time again.”
Specifically, Souness questioned when major 2-1 in the second half why Unai Emery caused Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock.
“They bring about some children, that was a match where at 2-1 it was time to dig and regroup, be sure they didn’t lose the match, and they should have lost it. When the kids arrived they had been all over the place, it was like a game of basketball and if you were still an Arsenal fan, which would profoundly, profoundly fear you.”
The first goal came from a Bernd Leno goal kick, and something seen again this season after rules changed allowing the ball inside the box to collect from Papastathopoulos’ central pass out of defence.
However, Souness said Arsenal must have gone after a warning signal from the first halfof the
“There are older players in that defence. As a manager, you expect your players that are bigger, it does not need to be the ones that are oldest, work out it that they are going to concede.
“Why did the huge players not say’let us go with it for 10 minutes and see where it takes us’, because persisting with it was about to charge themand they’re fortunate it only cost them one.”
One of the best players Granit Xhaka, on the afternoon of Arsenal confessed Arsenal were’fearful’ from the second half, however, said playing from the trunk was among many problems, not the problem.
“That which was wrong [in the second half], we didn’t play our gamewe were scaredwe know they’d push us more in the second half but we must show more character and drama, rather than be fearful. You can’t give a performance in this way.
“We train for short goal shouts, of course mistakes are here however, it’s not a justification. Next time we must do better, we must analyse and then we’ll see what happens. It wasn’t just this scenario that was an issue – it was the entire second half”
Back in the studio, Souness reacted to the interview of Xhaka by asking:’How do Arsenal be scared?’
“They’re saying they were scared – I have never been frightened at a game of soccer in my own life. I don’t know it. From the game plan, Arsenal were allowed to possess the ball, Watford dropped .
“It’s simple to play with no one’s coming after you, in your face. I could have played that Arsenal team from the first half! Nevertheless, the whole thing changes when Watford are allowed off the lead, you are confronted and they didn’t stand up for it.
“Sometimes you’ve got to have a hat on for a single type of match, and another hat on for another. Arsenal proved now they could only play one way – they can not go to war.”
Talking after the game to Sky Sports, Arsenal manager Emery reported the ball from goal strikes would have induced his side to eliminate the conflict and admits that his side has to learn from their errors.
“Attempting the long ballthey are stronger than us, and they were winning that chunk. We wanted to split the very first line and connect with Mesut [Ozil], like we did with the second goal.
“It was two unique halves. At the first we commanded the match we wanted, in the second we pushed to our mistakes, and we’d more than we ever wanted to perform. We will need to think about how we could improve, how we could perform.
“We can grow up with the mistakes and learn for the future games. We stated that 2-0 isn’t sufficient, and in the next half we needed to do exactly the identical job, but knowing they would do more. They did that, and the lines couldn’t be broken by us.
“I keep with our way of working. We need to enhance, take some information from this match. We can be let down, but we learn about this.”
Arsenal visit Eintracht Frankfurt in their initial Europa League group phase battle on Thursday at 5.55pm, prior to hosting Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday at 4.30pm.
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