At 2-1 to Arsenal, Matteo Guendouzi was substituted and raised his fingers to the Watford fans to show the score.

There were 23 minutes to go. Not one or two, but 23 minutes, and they proved to be 23 minutes (plus four minutes of injury time) in which Arsenal were pummelled, forced into ever more panicky defending and left holding on for a point they frankly did not deserve.

At fulltime, Guendouzi's fellow midfielder Granit Xhaka offered a frank assessment.

"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," the Arsenal captain said witheringly.


Too scared? No-one wanted the ball? Really? That was some indictment from Xhaka, who added that Arsenal were simply not "mentally strong" enough and did not have the "character" to win.

This was a game in which they were 2-0 up at halftime against a wounded team at the bottom of the table in what was Quique Sanchez Flores' first game back in charge at Vicarage Road after replacing Javi Gracia.

Guendouzi has become a poster boy of something Arsenal have previously lacked, a bit of grit, a bit of aggression, and the young midfielder had gesticulated angrily with his teammates for not pressing with him in the first half and involved himself in some pushing and shoving with Jose Holebas as he backed Nicolas Pepe to add to that feeling.

But he was also guilty of a systemic complacency at Arsenal which was shown by the way in which they gave away both of Watford's goals. The biggest condemnation of all was that Watford racked up 31 attempts at goal — and should have won.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has to carry the can for the second-half performance, which was condemned as worse than that expected of "semi-professionals" by pundit Graeme Souness, and which was more damaging than the result.

"Proper teams do not play like that," Souness said, not hiding his contempt.

"They pushed us," Emery said.

In fact, they pushed Arsenal around. Arsenal appeared overwhelmed. Chance after chance was created by Watford in wave after wave of attack and Arsenal had no answer.


"We never gave up," a delighted Flores said afterwards.

Could Arsenal say the same?