Watford striker Troy Deeney called Arsenal’s mentality and spirit into question after scoring in a 2-1 victory over Arsene Wenger’s side in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal took a 1-0 first-half lead thanks to Per Mertesacker’s 39th-minute header, but Watford turned the tables in the second period and claimed victory through substitute Deeney’s 71st-minute penalty and Tom Cleverley’s 92nd-minute winner.
Wenger blamed the defeat on what he called a “scandalous” decision to award a penalty for Hector Bellerin’s collision with Watford’s Brazilian forward Richarlison, but Deeney said he should focus on the performance of his own players instead.
“I’ve heard Wenger’s already saying the penalty is the reason they lost,” Deeney told BT Sport. “Well, I’m not going to be one to tell Mr Wenger about himself, but there’s a reason they lost and it wasn’t because of one penalty.
“Whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think, ‘Let me whack the first one and see who wants it’.
“I came on today and jumped up with (Per) Mertesacker. I didn’t even have to jump, actually. I nodded it down, the crowd got up – ‘yeah we’ve got somebody who can win it’ – and they all just backed off.
“For me as a player, I just think, ‘Happy days’. That’s my strength. If you’re going to let me do my strength against you, you’re going to have a tough afternoon.”
The result lifted Watford to fourth in the Premier League, while Arsenal fell to sixth.