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Arsenalandapos;s Europa League advantage suddenly looks fragile after tactical flaws at Watford

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Defending leads is the order of the week for Arsenal, but despite winning at Watford they are surely going to need a better performance than this at Napoli on Thursday.

Maitland-Niles replaced Ramsey, a decision booed by a small section of Arsenal’s travelling support.

But in searching for greater control — against 10 men, remember — Emery proved he is still uncertain of the right personnel and tactics in difficult moments away from home.

Javi Gracia’s side were already 1-0 down after Ben Foster dallied in possession almost on the goal-line, allowing Aubameyang to deflect his attempted clearance into the net.

Emery is much more pro-active than Arsene Wenger was in reacting to mid-match issues and Arsenal’s increased tactical flexibility is generally a welcome contrast to the predictable line-ups of recent seasons.

Results are paramount at this stage of the campaign and Unai Emery will take heart from a series of firsts: a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League, a win against a top-half side on the road and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting on the scoresheet outside Emirates Stadium in 2019.

Watford had a man fewer for 79 minutes following Troy Deeney’s 11th-minute red card for an ill-conceived attempt to test Lucas Torreira’s appetite for the fight.
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