Alexandre Lacazette’s pressure on Cathcart saw him turn Alex Iwobi’s cross beyond Ben Foster with nine minutes to go at the Emirates, before which the visitors had enjoyed the better of the chances. Will Hughes had volleyed an early chance wide, Andre Gray had a one on one saved by substitute goalkeeper Bernd Leno and an Isaac Success effort glanced the post with the scores goalless.
Watford had played well but, after their flawless start, have slipped to a four-match winless sequence that has included three narrow defeats. “I’m very upset for my players – I think we deserved a better result,” said their manager Javi Gracia. “It was a very good performance – more shots than Arsenal and lots of clear chances – I’m very proud of my players.”
Seven successive wins is a helpful statistic, but Emery was as impressed to see how Arsenal mastered their most difficult test since the first week of the season – when they lost to Manchester City and Chelsea. This was a true test of their mettle, with Watford starting the day ahead of them in the table thanks to their well‑organised ambition, and threatening to take all the points until Arsenal scored twice in three high-energy minutes in the late summer sun.
It’s an indicator of how far our feet are under the table that this is all so familiar now. Four of the five visits to the Emirates since promotion and the environs are now as familiar as Borough Market pre-Millwall, as the cricket club at Turf Moor, as the discarded bin bags spewing their contents all over the pavements between Norwood Junction and Selhurst Park.
It was a cruel finish to the game. Watford had been the better side for most of the second half and had considerably more shots on goal, but the hosts made the most of those that they had and it was the finishing that proved the difference between the teams.
Despite the defeat, the atmosphere in the away end after the final whistle was not that of animosity, in fact quite the opposite. Watford were still the louder set of supporters in the stadium, everyone evidently realising and appreciating the effort the team put in. And that’s all we ask for as fans, certainly as supporters of a club like Watford anyway. We don’t expect to turn up at a place like Arsenal and turn them over, we don’t really expect much in all honesty. What we do expect though is effort, a sense that the players care as much as we do about the badge that’s on their chest. And we got that, in fact we’ve been getting that since the season started.