Arsenal coach and captain reflect on Watford draw

Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead over Watford but Unai Emery is confident it will prove a valuable learning experience for his side.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said the Watford draw will be a learning curve for the club's youngsters.   -  Getty Images

Unai Emery believes Arsenal's capitulation against Watford on Sunday could help his young players in the long term.

The Gunners appeared to be coasting to all three points at Vicarage Road after Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang's first-half double.

Tom Cleverley took advantage of some slapstick defending by Sokratis Papastathopoulos to reduce the deficit, however, before Roberto Pereyra ensured a share of the spoils from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by David Luiz.

The Hornets – who had 31 shots on goal – can consider themselves unlucky not have claimed all three points, leaving Emery to hope the chastening experience will be of use to some of his side's younger players.

"We have some young players and they need to have experiences like today," he told a media conference.

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"Matteo [Guendouzi] is young and very emotional; sometimes he needs to make some mistakes to improve. In the first half he made a mistake and they didn't score.

"I don't want to say it's the fault of one player or another. It's my responsibility to give them the confidence to execute our game plan."

The Arsenal boss was frustrated with his side's inability to deal with Watford's aggressive pressing and says improvements are needed quickly.

"If we could break that pressing, we could connect with our midfielders and have space to continue imposing our game plan. We couldn't control the match and break their pressing. They're a good team and in the second half they showed that," said Emery.

"We also spoke about the need for calm to achieve what we wanted, and we did not do that. We need to work and improve things."

The draw leaves Arsenal seventh in the table, with eight points from five matches, while winless Watford remain bottom on two.

- Arsenal were too scared – Xhaka admits his side were mentally weak at Watford -

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka admitted his side were not mentally strong enough at Watford as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

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In the end Arsenal was left holding on for a point and Xhaka confessed the visitors were "too scared", while also accusing his team-mates of hiding.

"We are very disappointed. We had a good first half and then we came out and played so bad in the second half and paid for that," he told BBC Sport.

"We knew they had nothing to lose and they would come for us but we didn't show our game. We were too scared. Nobody wanted the ball.

"Every team in the Premier League is strong enough to score so you have to stay calm, be mentally strong and we weren't."

Arsenal were architects of their own downfall as Sokratis gave away possession for Watford's opener as his side persisted with attempting to play out from the back, despite also nearly being caught out in the first half.

Xhaka, who is expected to be announced as Arsenal's permanent skipper next week, told Sky Sports: "Mistakes happen but it is not an excuse." 

Arsenal travels to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday and returns to Premier League action next Sunday with a home match against Aston Villa.

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