Premier League

Watford 2-3 Arsenal: Player ratings as Gunners move into top four

Grey Whitebloom
Arsenal celebrate Gabriel Martinelli's well-taken goal in a Premier League victory over Watford
Arsenal celebrate Gabriel Martinelli's well-taken goal in a Premier League victory over Watford / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Watford eventually fell to a 3-2 Premier League defeat at home to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors peppered the game with sparkling team play in a compelling contest that Watford's adventure added to, but it ultimately ended with Arsenal moving into the top four despite a late scare.

Emmanuel Dennis had the ball in Aaron Ramsdale's net within 17 seconds but it was Arsenal that raced into an early lead.

Bailed out by the offside flag at one end, the Gunners' standout duo - Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard - dovetailed to devastating effect down the right flank in the fifth minute. Saka bounced the ball off Odegaard, scurrying to the byline where he teed the Norwegian up for a finish rolled into the far corner.

If Arsenal's opener was a mastery of teamwork, Cucho Hernandez delivered a stunning display of individualism six minutes later. With Kiko Femenia's cross soaring behind him, Cucho launched himself into the air, connecting sweetly with an overhead kick that flew into the corner.

The swift exchange of clinical blows broke the match open. Bodies on both sides swarmed into the chasms each porous backline afforded throughout.

Tom Cleverley took a breath on the ball amid the bedlam but paid the price. Saka bullied the former Manchester United man out of possession, lending the ball to Alexandre Lacazette before stuffing Arsenal back ahead half an hour in.

Arsenal had spells of sustained possession but tore Watford apart when they quickened the tempo. Mikel Arteta took a proactive approach to ensure the rapidity in a second-half move wasn't lost.

The manager's sharp toss to Saka for a quick throw-in was the first in a flurry of five one-touch shuffles of the ball to Gabriel Martinelli who rattled in a sumptuous third.

Despite their advantage, Arsenal never firmly closed the door to the hosts in an end-to-end affair. Former Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko created a nerve-jangling conclusion with his 87th-minute strike but the Gunners held on.

Watford player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Hassane Kamara
Watford's Hassane Kamara unleashes a roar of frustration / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Ben Foster (GK) - 5/10 - Beaten by goals not only laced with quality in their build-up but the finish as well.

Kiko Femenia (RB) - 6/10 - Feretting forward on the overlap, Femenia wasn't overly troubled going the other way down his flank.

Craig Cathcart (CB) - 5/10 - Left bamboozled by some of Arsenal's one-touch passing.

Samir (CB) - 4/10 - Bizarrely lured right out of Watford's backline towards the ball, vacating the space Saka pierced into for Arsenal's opener.

Hassane Kamara (LB) - 4/10 - Hardly wilted but endured a testing afternoon as Saka swiftly established his superior skill, speed and strength.

2. Midfielders

Alexandre Lacazette, Tom Cleverley
Tom Cleverley (left) getting touch-tight to Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Moussa Sissoko (CM) - 7/10 - His continual bursts forward were rewarded with a deserved goal.

Imran Louza (CM) - 5/10 - Despite a mixed display on and off the ball, Vicarage Road erupted in a collective gasp of shock and disgust when Louza was Watford's first sub.

Tom Cleverley (CM) - 3/10 - Dozy in possession and frequently caught out by Odegaard's movement behind him.

3. Forwards

Emmanuel Dennis
Emmanuel Dennis was denied a goal in the opening seconds / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Cucho Hernandez (RW) - 6/10 - Can never hurt a bid for more game time by providing a goal of the season contender.

Emmanuel Dennis (ST) - 5/10 - Given licence to sprint - and everything he did was at full pelt - around the pitch but produced a hurried finish with a clear sight of goal in the second half.

Joao Pedro (LW) - 4/10 - Failed to provide any sustained cut or thrust on the match's periphery.

4. Substitutes

Edo Kayembe (CM) - 5/10

Samuel Kalu (LW) - N/A

Arsenal player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Aaron Ramsdale (left) and Gabriel (centre) survived an early scare but still failed to keep a clean sheet / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Aaron Ramsdale (GK) - 5/10 - On his 150th career appearance the enigmatic keeper got away with one or two scares.

Cedric Soares (RB) - 5/10 - Played a subtle but crucial role in Martinelli's goal in a far from assured performance.

Ben White (CB) - 5/10 - Never convincing when defending the space that Arsenal's high line left, White didn't cover himself in glory for Sissoko's second.

Gabriel (CB) - 6/10 - Produced some shaky touches here and there - it was his misplaced pass that led to Saka's goal - but managed to come through largely unscathed.

Kieran Tierney (LB) - 7/10 - Muted but solid display as he was more focused on the defensive side of his game.

6. Midfielders

Martin Odegaard
Martin Odegaard celebrates Arsenal's opening goal / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Martin Odegaard (CM) - 8/10 - Floating between the lines with an ephemeral menace.

Thomas Partey (CM) - 6/10 - Punched some penetrative passes between the lines but didn't offer much in the way of limiting Watford's surges towards Arsenal's goal.

Granit Xhaka (CM) - 6/10 - A player never normally far from the spotlight managed to carry out what was required of him with little fuss.

7. Forwards

Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than any other player 21 or under / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Bukayo Saka (RW) - 9/10 - Provided another crisp reminder of the blistering talent at his disposal.

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) - 7/10 - Repeatedly acted as an option for teammates to bounce passes off but struggled to fashion chances for himself.

Gabriel Martinelli (LW) - 6/10 - Skirted around the fringes of the contest before clinically finishing off a swift team move.

8. Substitutes

Nicolas Pepe (RW) - 6/10

Eddie Nketiah (ST) - 6/10 - Almost caught Foster out with a sharp rifle which hit the base of the near post.

Rob Holding (CB) - N/A