Heurelho Gomes 7
A much-improved display by the Brazilian. Powerless to prevent all three goals, Gomes scrambled across his line to save instinctively with his legs to deny Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott. The pick, however, was a one-handed stop to thwart Walcott. Had little to do in the second half, apart from showing excellent anticipation to race outside his box and fly-kick away a raking pass bound for Alexis Sanchez. He won’t be happy with the stat that Watford have now only kept one clean sheet in their last 14 games.
Younes Kaboul 6
A tough introduction for the defender following his arrival from Sunderland. Playing on the outside of the back-three, he had his work cut out in a first half dominated by the visitors. He let Sanchez know he was about early on with a late tackle and was caught out by the Chilean for goal number two, conceding possession and then losing track of Sanchez who arrived at the back-post to scuff the ball home. Improved in the second period once Walter Mazzarri went to four at the back but was still out-paced and then turned inside out by Hector Bellerin.
Sebastian Prodl 6
It wasn’t the most ideal of circumstances for Watford to field two defensive debutants against a potent Arsenal attack. It left Prodl as the linchpin and one familiar face at the back, and he did well to clear a dangerous Sanchez cut-back early on. He won’t thank Nordin Amrabat for the hospital pass that led to him clipping the fleet-footed Theo Walcott and earning one of six yellow cards. The Austrian looks the most under threat by the arrival of Kaboul who you can see being sandwiched in between Craig Cathcart and Miguel Britos.
Christian Kabasele 6
Kabasele was thrown in at the deep end having not featured in either of the first two matchday squads. Operating on the left-side of the back three, he had the unenviable task of tracking Walcott and Bellerin as Arsenal often doubled up down Watford’s right. He will be disappointed with Arsenal’s second as he allowed Walcott to swing in a cross that Sanchez latched on to and was static for number three, allowing Mesut Ozil to ghost in to score. He was, however, presented with a chance of his own but he could only head wide from an inviting Capoue corner. He played a nice crossfield pass to Amrabat and earned warm applause for the way he ushered Ozil back towards the halfway line in the first half. He was the man sacrificed when Mazzarri opted to switch to a back four.
Nordin Amrabat 7
A mixed afternoon. His clumsy challenge on Sanchez inevitably led to the early penalty and he was arguably culpable for the killer third, as he failed to close down Sanchez who picked out the arriving Ozil on the stroke of half-time. But while his defensive game remains an area he needs to sharpen up on, he remains one of Watford’s most creative and dynamic players going the other way. He linked up well with the midfield and had the beating of Nacho Monreal for large swathes of the game. It was his first-half cross, following terrific perseverance, that nearly led to a Laurent Koscielny own goal. He seemed to thrive as a right-winger in the second half following the switch in formation and was involved in Watford’s goal, playing in debutant Janmaat for the cross from which Pereyra would eventually score.
Jose Holebas 6
Better going forward than defensively, but that’s not the first time we’ve said that. Was involved in some of Watford’s brightest attacking moments in the first half, swinging in a cross that Deeney connected with. He wasn’t too far away either from a first Watford goal in the second half as his well-struck drive, with his weaker right-foot, forced Petr Cech into a smart save. However, he won’t want to see Arsenal’s third goal again as Mesut Ozil was allowed to run in between himself and Kabasele to score. He used his long-throw to good effect though in both halves, forcing Rob Holding to concede a corner in the first and then teeing up Ighalo for an audacious overhead kick in the second. He was eventually booked for leaving his mark on Jack Wilshere.
Adlene Guedioura 5
A tough 45 minutes for the midfielder who has now made as many Premier League starts this season as he did under Quique Sanchez Flores. Was part of a midfield that struggled to live with Arsenal’s pace and invention in the first period but he did show his ability to get on the ball and bring others into the game. His link-up play with Amrabat in the first half was particularly promising and his passing was sharper than it was against Chelsea. Tried his luck from distance again but failed to connect and over-hit a cross early on from a decent position. Was the victim of the head coach’s attempts to haul Watford back into the contest as he was replaced at half-time by debutant Pereyra.
Valon Behrami 6
He’s another still getting up to speed. It was, however, still a solid performance from the midfielder. Not quite at his usual best in tidying up the play as he did give the ball away on a couple of occasions, especially in the first half. Had one effort on goal in the second half when the ball broke invitingly and he skewed his effort wide with Watford trying to force the issue. Another booked by the referee following a typically robust challenge, on Walcott, having lost control of the ball.
Etienne Capoue 7
Again one of Watford’s better players. Capoue is thriving in a more advanced role this season but it was all hands to the pump in the first and he did will to block a Santi Cazorla strike. He was more of an attacking force in the second, and had two efforts on goal, the first a strike that was comfortable for Petr Cech. The second cannoned off Koscielny, struck Bellerin and landed at the feet of Pereyra who lashed home.
Troy Deeney 5
He still has a way to go before he is back to his very best. You would have thought he would have had the inexperienced Rob Holding on toast but Koscielny made sure he was picking him up and outgunned him every time in the air. Deeney has lost the spring that saw him win more aerial duels than anyone else in the league last season. He still did too much moaning and threw his hands up too often in disappointment, and his frustration boiled over when he was booked for a heavy challenge on Nacho Monreal. It’s worth remembering that he didn’t score until October last season and he ended up with 13 league goals.
Odion Ighalo 6
Quiet in the first half but looked hungrier in the second. Was quick to react to a loose ball after Holebas’ effort was saved, but Cech smothered the rebound. Ighalo almost scored an early goal-of-the-season contender when he latched on to a Holebas’ long throw and his over-head kick was inches away from making it 3-2. He won’t want to see a replay of a horribly overhit pass bound for Guedioura in the first half while it was interesting to see Kieran Gibbs telegraph a second-half scoop. He was, however, still the better of the two forwards.
Roberto Pereyra 8
Watford’s man of the match which, given he was only introduced at half-time, says a lot about the level of his performance. His arrival gave everybody wearing yellow inside Vicarage Road a lift; he looked a cut above the rest with his silky footwork and willingness to get on the ball on show immediately, once picking the ball up in the sweeper area in a bid to get play going. The head coach described him as the “missing link” and, on this evidence, he certainly is just that, dragging Watford back into this contest that was painfully one-sided for 45 minutes. Made it a debut to remember when he reacted quickest to a loose ball and fired home from ten-yards just 12 minutes after coming on. A class act.
Daryl Janmaat 7
Was introduced for his debut seven minutes into the second half, a change that led to a switch to a back four. His introduction allowed Amrabat to play further forward and with it, Watford carried a greater threat. He linked up superbly with the Moroccan to set up the Hornets’ only goal of the game; his cross set up Capoue for the initial chance, from which Pereyra would score. Displayed the sort of attacking threat that Watford will be all too familiar with. It was, after all, Janmaat who scored against Watford at St James’ Park last September. A positive start.
Isaac Success 7
Having only trained on Wednesday for the first time since injurying his hamstring against Loreint, this was a hugely encouraging display. He affected the game at both ends of the pitch – he showed good muscularity to track back and rob Bellerin one minute, while he headed a cross straight at Cech the next – and his pace and strength will cause plenty of problems this season. It won’t be long before he’s pushing Deeney and Ighalo for their spot.