Arsenal saw off Premier League Watford 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon in a behind-closed-doors friendly courtesy of goals from Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney and Miguel Azeez secured pre-season victory.
Mikel Arteta’s pre-season plans had been disrupted by a number of positive COVID-19 cases in their 80-strong travelling party for the Florida Cup in the United States, prompting the last-minute cancellation of the tour.
It resulted in behind-closed-doors fixtures having to be arranged instead and fortunately Millwall were available, a fixture Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners. Goals from Calum Chambers, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Folarin Balogun rounded off a solid afternoon’s work.
There were starts against the Hornets for both new boys Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga as well as Bernd Leno in goal, with Chambers slotting into centre-back. Ben White was just around the corner.
Arsenal player ratings vs Watford as Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney and Miguel Azeez score in 4-1 win
The opener came after 15 minutes as Nketiah was fed down the line from a well-weighted Willian ball, before cutting inside and bending a fierce low effort across goal and in off the post.
Watford equalised before half-time after Mohamed Elneny was caught on the ball as Arsenal tried to play out from the back.
In complete control after the break, Arsenal got their noses in front with 20 minutes to go as Alexandre Lacazette comfortably converted from the penalty spot. That technique is poetry in motion.
As the heavens opened up, so did the goals as two more would follow for Arsenal. Lovely work from Emile Smith Rowe culminated in Kieran Tierney (with his right foot) slamming home from close range.
The best was saved for last though, with Hale End start Miguel Azeez rounding off the scoring with a delightful curling effort on his ‘weaker’ left foot with five minutes to play. He does not score bad goals. If there is such a thing, that is.
(all ratings come with the usual pre-season caveat)
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – 6/10 – Made a couple of saves to his right, one that looked like it was going out of play, but was otherwise untroubled barring the scruffy goal. Didn’t play the kindest ball to Elneny in the build-up.
Cedric Soares (RB) – 5/10 – Average does as average does. Just average. Was asked to be the more reserved of the full-backs in the game and ended being guilty of some lazy passes.
Calum Chambers (CB) – 7/10 – Got tight to the his marker when covering in centre-back and showed good positioning to cover lanes for Watford forward to pass into. Was seen marshalling Mari and not the other way around.
Pablo Mari (CB) – 6/10 – Got caught for pace on a few occasions but played a few neat passes into feet.
Nuno Tavares (LB) – 5/10 – ‘Clunky’ seems like the appropriate word. Seemed to get the ball caught under his feet too often and there were a few loose passes in his second start for the club, although he did grow into the game and started to simplify his game with better running and decision making.