Heurelho Gomes 7
At least there was no confusion over who would start in goal this time. Made a great save from an Alexis Sanchez header early on but perhaps could have pushed it further away rather than allowing the forward to tap home the rebound for the opener. Could do nothing about the other goals and was dealt a cruel hand of fate when Hector Bellerin’s effort deflected over him via a Ben Watson leg. In fact the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing had Gomes not made some good saves, in particular one to tip an Alex Iwobi curler over the bar. Caused nerves to jangle with a few uncertain punches, or rather pushes, but always ensured the ball was cleared one way or another.
Allan Nyom 4
Quique Sanchez Flores has not been shy to drop players who are underperforming so how out of favour must Juan Carlos Paredes be if he was not awarded a start after Nyom’s poor display against Stoke City? Nyom followed up that performance with one just as disappointing at the Emirates, failing to track the impressive Iwobi all afternoon and heading one clearance straight back into the danger area just after half-time, allowing Bellerin to score via a deflection. Put in one great cross to present Troy Deeney with a chance and busted a gut to get back and track Joel Campbell in the final few minutes but could not prevent the cross which led to the final goal. Expect Watford’s recruitment team to be shopping for a new right-back the second the window opens.
Sebastian Prodl 6.5
Had a decent game despite Arsenal’s domination, as most of the home side’s threats came down the wings and the Watford centre-halves had little to do compared to the full-backs. Headed away a number of crosses, and made a good block from a Francis Coquelin shot soon after clearing a Sanchez cross in the first half. Prevented a goal at 3-0 with a sliding interception to direct a Mesut Ozil pass away from Danny Welbeck and towards Gomes. Came closest to scoring for Watford with a strong header which Nacho Monreal cleared off the line, but could have conceded a penalty for a nudge on Danny Welbeck. It’s crazy to think Manchester City pay eight-figure sums for centre-backs when this man joined Watford for free.
Craig Cathcart 6
Performed with his usual reliability and composure but was powerless to prevent any of Arsenal’s goals. Stretched brilliantly to flick a Sanchez cross over the head of Welbeck in the fourth minute, preventing an even earlier opening goal. Cleared a number of crosses when Sanchez and co got in behind the Watford full-backs to put balls into the danger area. Was beaten too easily by Iwobi when the forward hit the crossbar in the second half. Looked particularly disappointed when the first goal went in and seemed a beaten man when we spoke to him post-match. It’s clear he’s a player who cares.
Nathan Ake 5.5
Won’t be getting in the Chelsea starting XI any time soon with performances like this, but perhaps it’s harsh to judge him against an in-form Sanchez when the full-back was provided no cover by Etienne Capoue. Some suspect positioning allowed the winger and Mesut Ozil in behind him to put balls in the box while Iwobi’s delivery sailed over his head for the opener when he could have done better to track back and win the header. Did okay in one-v-one situations and came out the winner in a couple of stand-offs duels with Sanchez, but would have preferred Ikechi Anya’s defensive cover from the start.
Almen Abdi 5.5
Similarly talented to Capoue and also played out of position yet could give Capoue a lesson in how to track back and provide cover for a full-back. Has never been renowned for his defensive attributes and a couple of wild swings of the leg on Arsenal players proved that but at least he had a go. Narrowly escaped a booking on a number of occasions. Could also have conceded a foul on the edge of the box for a challenge on Monreal but his tenacity was needed to make up for Capoue’s lack of effort. Tired after an hour and was replaced by Adlene Guedioura soon after.
Ben Watson 5
Usually opts to pass backwards or sideways after winning possession but tried to be more forward-thinking here. However, it did not pay off as he conceded possession on a number of occasions. One particular loose pass presented Iwobi with a golden chance to break forward and almost resulted in a goal. Should also have closed Iwobi down to prevent the cross for Arsenal’s opener but seemed too preoccupied instructing his teammates to pick up their markers. Attempted to fill the boots of the ill Valon Behrami and did so on one occasion when he found himself continuing to hack away at legs in red socks even after falling to the floor. Didn’t have many set pieces to take but found Deeney with one impressive delivery to the far post.
Mario Suarez 5.5
Did not improve upon a disappointing performance against Stoke but showed glimpses of the passing ability that warrants his transfer fee and surprisingly long contract for a 29-year-old. Played a few first-time passes forwards, through the Arsenal midfield, with consummate ease in the early stages. You get the feeling that he has the ability to run a game from midfield if he is allowed to and has the right players around him. A lack of pace meant he was in no position to track back and defend when Arsenal’s free-running midfield flooded forward. Lacked Behrami’s bite.
Etienne Capoue 4
Was dragged off before half-time and headed straight down the tunnel, probably due to embarrassment. Was nutmegged by Iwobi inside 20 minutes and his match didn’t get any better. Put in no effort to track the overlapping Sanchez for Arsenal’s second goal, leaving Ake to deal with the dangerous winger alone. After the ball hit the back of the net for the second Sanchez Flores immediately instructed Anya to prepare to come on. In fairness, the Frenchman is being played out of position. It was from a central position that he ran games earlier in the season.
Troy Deeney 6
His son Myles, who was mascot for the day, stated before the game that Odion Ighalo was his favourite Watford player but his dad certainly outshone his attacking partner at the Emirates. Played a smart flick over the defence to find Ighalo in the first half but the Nigerian was ruled offside. Played another soon after but this time Laurent Koscielny tackled the striker after Deeney picked him out. Won a number of headers including one which set up Prodl for a good chance. Was allowed to lead the line when Nordin Amrabat replaced Ighalo and showed what he is capable of, receiving an Ake pass inside the area, turning his marker with ease and curling a shot towards the corner which forced a diving save from David Ospina.
Odion Ighalo 4.5
Barely got into the game and failed to capitalise on any of the chances his captain presented him with. Maybe his ability to score a goal out of nothing could have pulled one back for Watford in the second half, but his withdrawal at half-time due to tiredness meant he never got a chance. Left Bellerin on his backside with one dummy but Koscielny was quick to get across and clear the danger. Looked far from disappointed as he strutted through the press area at full-time. Perhaps it’s time he was dropped in place of the livelier Amrabat or even Obbi Oulare. Remember him?
Ikechi Anya 6
Came on four minutes before half-time but did more defensively in those minutes than Capoue did in the first 41. Showed some limitations on the ball but was always willing to drop back and cover Ake from Arsenal’s pacy forwards. Used his own pace to offer some directness late on and Sanchez Flores gestured him to hug the touchline and provide the width Watford have lacked nearly all season. Got on the end of one Amrabat cross but opted to head back to Deeney rather than go for goal himself. At least he had a go.
Nordin Amrabat 6
Has looked lively every time he has been introduced recently and that was the case again at the Emirates. Gave the Arsenal defence something different to think about and his pace certainly stretched the game in the Arsenal half as he won free-kicks and looked to get in behind Koscielny and Gabriel on more than one occasion. Took on Monreal with a piece of skill but was harshly ruled to have fouled the defender. Sparked one counterattack with Anya but delayed and eventually played a poor pass which ended a promising attack.
Adlene Guedioura 5.5
Was denied a chance to repeat his FA Cup heroics as he had to settle for a place on the bench, again, and just 20 minutes to make an impact. Found the top corner in the pre-match shooting practise with a howitzer but saw his only effort of note in the game itself sail wide of Ospina’s goal. Provided a burst of energy when he was brought on in place of Abdi but the game was already lost by that point.
Quique Sanchez Flores 4
As good as he was tactically against Arsenal in the FA Cup tie, he was just as bad and naive here. If Ighalo is tired, like he was against Manchester United at home, then don’t play him and play Amrabat or Oulare, the pair who cost the thick end of £10m between them. The fact Oulare was on the bench for the cup game here yet left at home for the league was odd. Conversely, why leave Steven Berghuis at home to watch the cup game on the telly yet recall him here? Oulare or Berghuis would probably not have affected the result here but the handling of them summed up the muddled thinking of the head coach right now.