Watford fought back from two goals down at half-time to draw at home to Arsenal in Quique Sanchez Flores’ first match since being reappointed Hornets manager.

They levelled the scores when Roberto Pereyra rolled in a late penalty after Tom Cleverley had reduced the deficit when Gunners defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos gave away possession inside his own area, to take only their second point of the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had put the visitors in front when he collected Sead Kolasinac’s pass on the turn before firing past Ben Foster.

Arsenal doubled their lead as Aubemeyang finished a sweeping team move but the hosts improved after the break as the Gunners unravelled in front of the vociferous home support.

The Hornets had their chances to complete a stunning comeback with a decisive third, but the otherwise impressive Gerard Deulofeu dragged his effort narrowly wide.

The result sees Arsenal move into seventh, while the Hornets remain rooted to the foot of the table.

Aubameyang papers over defensive frailties

The Arsenal striker is one of the most clinical forwards in the English top flight, having scored with seven of his last nine shots on target, and the Gunners are quite capable of blowing teams away going forward thanks to the potency of Aubameyang and the technical ability of Mesut Ozil and Dani Ceballos.

They demonstrated their attacking flair as they went through 20 passes for their second goal – but glaring issues remain at the back.

This was evident as early as the 10th minute as the red and white shirts backed off and space opened up for Cleverley, whose fierce effort was well saved by Bernd Leno.

Five minutes later, and Etienne Capoue was given the same time and space but could only shoot over the bar.

The Gunners want to play out from the back, and even though Matteo Guendouzi lost possession deep inside his own half on two occasions they persisted with their approach.

It was Sokratis who eventually made the mistake that always looked likely to happen, before Deulofeu diverted the ball into Cleverley’s path for Watford’s first goal.

David Luiz was brought in from London rivals Chelsea to shore up the defence over the summer, but the Brazilian has endured a difficult few weeks at the start of his Arsenal career, and has now conceded two penalties in three matches.

Luiz brought down Pereyra with a lunge in the final 10 minutes and the substitute stepped up himself to take the penalty and salvage a point for the hosts.

Cause for optimism for bottom club

Watford welcomed Sanchez Flores for his second spell in charge at Vicarage Road with a bright start as they looked to impose themselves on the visitors.

They were in the ascendancy before going behind against the run of play as Will Hughes was dispossessed inside the Arsenal half. Kolasinac burst down the other end and fed Aubemeyang to rifle home.

Even after Aubemeyang doubled Arsenal’s lead Watford still sensed the visitors’ weakness was in playing out from the back and they crowded around Leno and his defenders, with the high press eventually leading to Sokratis’ mistake.

Sanchez Flores’ side produced more shots against Arsenal (31) than they previously have in any other Premier League game – conversely, it was the most shots the visitors had faced since Opta began collecting records.

However, only 10 of the Hornets’ shots were on target and the return of injured talisman Troy Deeney cannot come soon enough they look to climb away from the bottom of the table.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Watford

  • 26Foster
  • 21FemeníaBooked at 56mins
  • 4Dawson
  • 27Kabasele
  • 25HolebasBooked at 45minsSubstituted forJanmaatat 78′minutes
  • 16Doucouré
  • 29CapoueBooked at 90mins
  • 19HughesSubstituted forPereyraat 63′minutes
  • 8Cleverley
  • 7Deulofeu
  • 18GraySubstituted forSarrat 54′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gomes
  • 2Janmaat
  • 6Mariappa
  • 14Chalobah
  • 23Sarr
  • 36Foulquier
  • 37Pereyra

Arsenal

  • 1LenoBooked at 76mins
  • 15Maitland-Niles
  • 5Papastathopoulos
  • 23David Luiz
  • 31KolasinacBooked at 43mins
  • 34Xhaka
  • 29GuendouziBooked at 45minsSubstituted forTorreiraat 67′minutes
  • 8CeballosSubstituted forWillockat 60′minutes
  • 10ÖzilSubstituted forNelsonat 71′minutes
  • 14Aubameyang
  • 19Pépé

Substitutes

  • 11Torreira
  • 21Chambers
  • 24Nelson
  • 26Martínez
  • 28Willock
  • 35Martinelli Silva
  • 77Saka
Referee:
Anthony Taylor
Attendance:
21,360

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamArsenal
Possession
Home53%
Away47%
Shots
Home31
Away7
Shots on Target
Home10
Away4
Corners
Home7
Away1
Fouls
Home14
Away4

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 2, Arsenal 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Watford 2, Arsenal 2.

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).

Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ismaila Sarr.

Booking

Etienne Capoue (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Joe Willock (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Tom Cleverley (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu.

Attempt blocked. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kiko Femenía.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christian Kabasele (Watford).

Joe Willock (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Daryl Janmaat (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu following a corner.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by David Luiz.

Attempt blocked. Tom Cleverley (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt missed. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

Attempt missed. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt blocked. Tom Cleverley (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Roberto Pereyra.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 2, Arsenal 2. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Penalty Watford. Roberto Pereyra draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by David Luiz (Arsenal) after a foul in the penalty area.

Attempt saved. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).

Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Daryl Janmaat replaces José Holebas.

Booking

Bernd Leno (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

David Luiz (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Sead Kolasinac.

Attempt blocked. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Roberto Pereyra.

Attempt saved. Reiss Nelson (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nicolas Pépé.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Reiss Nelson replaces Mesut Özil.

Offside, Watford. Tom Cleverley tries a through ball, but Ismaila Sarr is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Christian Kabasele (Watford) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by José Holebas with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Lucas Torreira.

goal

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