Gracia | “I Can’t Believe We Didn't Score”
Javi Gracia had no real complaints about the result at the Emirates Stadium yesterday afternoon, but couldn't for the life of him explain how his side didn't at least to manage to finish the afternoon with a goal for their attacking efforts.
The Hornets fashioned at least half a dozen good chances against the Gunners, particularly during a first-half that witnessed some really good, vibrant attacking play by the Golden Boys, some of their best away from home in weeks, if not months.
Richarlison went close three times in the first 45 minutes, once with his left foot, once with his right and another with his head, while Roberto Pereyra blazed over when well-placed. Kiko Femenía saw a cross deflected onto the roof of the net and then Troy Deeney, of all people, missed a second-half penalty. It was one of those afternoons for the Golden Boys when the ball just wouldn't go in.
"I'm disappointed because I can't believe we didn't score a goal," said Gracia. "I always say if you create many chances and not score, you will have problems."
The fact three of them fell the way of Richarlison shows the Brazilian is getting in the right places and doing the right things after a recent lean spell.
"Richarlison played well, he created many chances but we need to score," said the Head Coach. "I remember in the first-half, he had two or three clear chances. And in the second-half as well. We will try to do better next time."
Watford gave themselves a bit of a mountain to climb by giving Arsenal a headstart after nine minutes.
"The match started with us conceding an early goal and then everything changed," Gracia said. "It wasn't our idea, our plan. We conceded an early goal and then everything changed.
"In the first-half both teams created many chances. In the second-half, at the beginning, we played better and had more control of the game, but after their second goal it was very difficult for us.
"We know Arsenal are very dangerous on the counter-attack and it was a very open game. I prefer another way. We defended well in the last game, but today it was difficult for us against good players. We tried to defend with two lines of four but to be ready to counter-attack. Sometimes Arsenal play with full-backs up, so we had some chances. We will try to do better next time."
Gracia absolved Deeney of any blame for the penalty miss, especially after the captain won the team six points in the last two matches. He didn't believe the captain was affected by any of the pre-match talk surrounding him.
"Troy before the match was concentrating on playing well, to help the team and possibly to score," said Gracia. "He had the chance to score a penalty. I am happy with him when he scores and when he doesn't score."