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'We were too scared' - Xhaka blasts Arsenal second-half collapse against Watford

22:02 GMT+3 15/09/2019
Granit Xhaka Arsenal Watford
The Gunners allowed a two-goal lead to slip away against the winless Hornets, and the midfielder blamed his team's mentality

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka conceded he and his team-mates were 'scared' in the second half of their Premier League clash with Watford on Sunday, allowing the Hornets to battle back for a 2-2 draw. 

The Gunners took a two-goal lead in the first half thanks to a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the second a superb team goal , with the Gabon international capping off a 20-pass move.

Two defensive errors in the second period led to Watford pulling level and eventually gaining a share of the spoils.

A calamitous pass by Sokratis Papastathopoulos after a goal kick was intercepted by Gerard Deulofeu allowing Tom Cleverley to slot home. David Luiz then gave away a penalty which Roberto Pereyra scored with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Xhaka was honest about his team’s performance after the match, saying the Gunners were disappointed, and had been punished for being 'scared'.

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

"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.”

Watford had only gained one point in the Premier League before the game with Arsenal, a start that led to them replacing manager Javi Gracia with Quique Sanchez Flores for a second spell at the helm.

And Arsenal manager Unai Emery was also harsh in his assessment of the Gunners' performance, admitting his side dropped points despite grabbing a draw away from home.

"When you are trying to break their lines you can have chances," he told BBC Sport . "They won the second half and my summary is it is not a good point."

"We need to continue working. When we tried to play the long ball we lost the ball as well."

Emery said that Watford played to force errors from the Gunners, and conceded his team had struggled with the physical nature of their opponents.

“They pushed us. Watford last year played like today,” he said. 

“We were up in the first half and we knew that we needed to score the third. They had the capacity to come back with the supporters and that's what happened.

"We couldn't break their pressing in the second half. They are physical, a very strong team. They pushed for our mistakes, they were playing for our mistakes.”