Sokratis takes the blame for Arsenal’s woeful display at Watford
Gunners implode at Vicarage Road as they throw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 after two defensive howlers
15 September, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
FA Premier League
WATFORD 2 (Cleverley 53, Pereyra 81 PEN)
ARSENAL 2 (Aubameyang 21, 32)
GUNNERS defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has put himself in the firing line after seeing his side throw away a two-goal lead to draw at Watford on Sunday, saying he is solely responsible for throwing away the points at Vicarage Road.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first-half double put Arsenal on course for a comfortable victory. But a shocking second half defensive performance allowed the Hornets to battle back to earn a draw in Quique Sanchez Flores’s first game back in charge of the club.
Unai Emery’s side looked more like a Sunday league team when they tried to play out from the back. It was a poor tactic that led to Sokratis gifting possession to Gerard Deulofeu, resulting in Tom Cleverley reducing the deficit.
Things went from bad to worse when David Luiz tripped Roberto Pereyra inside the box, with the substitute converting the resulting penalty to level the scores.
Arsenal’s Head coach Emery refused to criticise his players, while captain Granit Xhaka claimed they had been “scared” in the second half.
But Sokratis, signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer, said: “I think that I cost the game for the team. It was my mistake for something simple that I don’t have to do.
“I think this was the problem why we lose the three points. This is all about our responsibility and we have to do better. It was my mistake and today without my mistake, we would take the three points.
“I don’t want to speak about others. Today it was my mistake and this cost the game. Nothing else. The other guys tried their best. I don’t have to do this mistake.”
Aubameyang put Arsenal in front when he collected Sead Kolasinac’s pass on the turn before sweetly firing past Ben Foster on 21 minutes.
The visitors then doubled their lead as Aubameyang finished a sweeping team move that saw the Gabon striker tap home Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s low cross.
Watford, who fired in 31 shots – a club-record for a Premier League game – against Arsenal’s shaky defence, earned themselves a draw thanks to howlers from Sokratis and Luiz.
WATFORD: Foster, Femenia, Kabasele, Dawson, Holebas (Janmaat, 78), Capoue, Hughes (Pereyra, 63), Doucoure, Cleverley, Deulofeu, Gray (Sarr, 54)
Substitutes not used: Gomes, Mariappa, Chalobah, Foulquier
ARSENAL: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Ceballos (Willock, 60), Guendouzi (Torreira, 67), Xhaka, Ozil (Nelson, 71), Aubameyang, Pepe
Substitutes not used: Martínez, Chambers, Saka, Martinelli