Arsenal got a win against Watford on the final day of the season to sneak up into eighth place and build some momentum for the FA Cup final.
Initially, it looked like Arsenal were going to go into the final on the back of a thrashing. They raced into a 3-0 lead in the first 33 minutes, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a brace and Kieran Tierney getting a goal and an assist.
However, defensive stupidity gifted Watford a penalty to make it 3-1 just before half time. The away side kept pushing in the second half and Danny Welbeck scored to make it 3-2, but they couldn’t find an equaliser.
That was largely thanks to Watford failing to take their chances, though, as Arsenal hardly did much to stop them defensively. It was a reminder that the team will have to be right on top of their game to have a chance at winning the cup final next weekend.
Let’s have a look at our Arsenal player ratings for the match.
- Emi Martinez 8 – There shouldn’t be any doubt about Martinez starting the final after this performance, even if Bernd Leno is fit. Conceded a couple of goals to a penalty and a Welbeck shot from a few yards out but made some excellent saves.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 6 – Probably could’ve got forward a bit more in the first half and back a bit more in the second, as he switched role from full-back to wing-back halfway through. But when he was on the ball he did well, beating players and finding teammates ahead of him.
- Rob Holding 4 – Didn’t look solid in or out of possession, making a catalogue of mistakes to gift Watford chances. It wasn’t all bad, he had a few good moments, but it certainly didn’t inspire confidence ahead of the final.
- David Luiz 4.5 – Gave away a penalty and was a bit lucky not to get a red card as well. If Welbeck didn’t get his shot away, it might have been seen as a goalscoring opportunity denied. Only marginally outperformed Holding.
- Kieran Tierney 8.5 – Got forward really well, with a goal and an assist. Also, put in some crucial tackles and interceptions. Another strong performance from the left-back.
- Granit Xhaka 7 – His first-half yellow led to some nervy moments, given any suspension would leave him out of the final. But he did well not to give Mike Dean the chance to book him again. It was another solid performance with accurate distribution and a strong aerial presence to deal with long balls.
- Dani Ceballos 7 – Had a couple of nice moments dribbling away from pressure and his passing was good, creating a couple of chances.
- Joe Willock 6 – Carried the ball pretty well, but couldn’t find the final pass. Ended up coming off just before the hour mark so Arsenal could change the system.
- Nicolas Pepe 7 – In the first half he looked really lively, and easily had the beating of the Watford left-back. The opposition had to double up on him to stop him, which shifted the defence across and left Aubameyang free at the far post as against City. This time the striker laid it off for Tierney to score, but it was a testament to the impact Pepe was having. Had less of an impact later on and ended up coming off with 20 minutes left.
- Alexandre Lacazette 6 – Won the penalty but didn’t do much to earn it. A couple of nice passes but was hardly involved at all other than that, before his early substitution.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 9 – In peak Golden Boot-chasing form, Aubameyang slotted away his penalty perfectly before scoring a nice overhead kick. Set up Tierney’s goal as well. Can only complain about missing the chance to make it a hat-trick, but Nketiah’s lay-off wasn’t great.
- Sead Kolasinac 5 – Didn’t close down the crosser for the second goal, not long after coming on. More of the same, he can’t start the final. But it was a necessary substitution to allow Arsenal to switch the system.
- Eddie Nketiah 7 – Should have just scored the chance he squared to Aubameyang, but he’s getting a bit too much criticism for that considering he made the chance on his own in the first place. He turned a nothing moment into a clear-cut opportunity with his pressing, and generally, it was a decent cameo.
- Lucas Torreira 6 – Arteta keeps bringing on Torreira to shore up the defence in matches but it doesn’t really seem to make much difference. Watford certainly didn’t stop having chances. But his passing was fine, at least.
- Reiss Nelson 7.5 – Returning from injury, looked really bright after coming on, and actually completed a game-high three dribbles in just 18 minutes on the pitch. Also created a chance and completed all of his passes. Making a good case for some sort of cup final appearance, even if it is from the bench.