Arsene Wenger bemoaned a “scandalous decision” to award Watford a penalty as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose 2-1 in injury time at Vicarage Road. The Gunners led through Per Mertesacker’s header but the Hornets equalised when Troy Deeney converted from the spot after Hector Bellerin was adjudged to have fouled Richarlison. Substitute Deeney’s strike with 19 minutes left set the scene for a stirring Watford finish, with Tom Cleverley converting in the closing seconds to send Watford fourth. “I would say it was not a penalty,” said Arsenal manager Wenger. “It came at a moment in the game where it was absolutely important for Watford. No penalty, no goal.”
Silva’s side have now scored in the 90th minute or beyond in three consecutive games, as a second-half revival sealed their first home win of an impressive start to the campaign. Without the rested Alexis Sanchez the Gunners lacked the cutting edge to capitalise on a string of chances, with substitute Mesut Ozil – also benched after his World Cup qualifying exertions for Germany in the week – guilty of one glaring miss. While Wenger complained about the penalty, Arsenal fans might be more concerned with the evidence that their side remain so defensively vulnerable. Granted they had to ask injury-troubled elder statesman Mertesacker to replace his sidelined compatriot Shkodran Mustafi, but that was not solely to blame.
For 45 minutes at least the 33-year-old German was commanding on his first top-flight start since April 2016. But worryingly for Arsenal in this contest, they faced only three shots on target and conceded twice. Wenger had readied Jack Wilshire from the bench but brought on another defender, Rob Holding, to cling onto a point. It wasn’t enough. Not for the first time his defence switched off under pressure, leaving Cleverley unmarked to smash in the late heart-breaker. Injuries can’t be helped. Organisation and remaining calm under pressure are another thing.