Furious Claudio Ranieri blasts Arsenal's 'disrespect' after Emile Smith Rowe nets late winner

·22-min read
Furious Claudio Ranieri blasts Arsenal's 'disrespect' after Emile Smith Rowe nets late winner - Getty Images
Furious Claudio Ranieri blasts Arsenal's 'disrespect' after Emile Smith Rowe nets late winner - Getty Images

Claudio Ranieri, the Watford head coach, accused Arsenal of showing a lack of respect after Mikel Arteta’s side scored their winning goal in controversial circumstances at the Emirates Stadium.

Emile Smith Rowe’s second-half strike came just moments after Watford had kicked the ball out of play due to an injury to Ozan Tufan. Rather than subsequently returning possession to the visitors, Arsenal went on the attack and eventually found the net through Smith Rowe’s driven effort.

Ranieri and Arteta were involved in a tense exchange on the touchline at the final whistle, with the Watford head coach clearly incensed by the nature of the deciding goal. Ranieri also felt there was a foul in the build-up to Smith Rowe’s strike.

“We put out the ball and everybody expected the Arsenal player to give it back,” said Ranieri. “Give the ball to us. We put the ball out because there was an injured player, but after this it was very strange. My opinion is there was [also] a big foul, but nothing happened and then they scored a goal. It was very strange.”

Asked what he had told Arteta at the final whistle, Ranieri added: “I told him there is no respect in that action.”

It had been a feisty afternoon even before the goal, with Watford committing a series of fouls in the first half as they looked to disrupt Arsenal’s passing game. Danny Rose also conceded a remarkable penalty, which was missed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, by charging at Alexandre Lacazette’s neck with his elbow. Arteta defended his players, saying Arsenal are generally the league’s most honest team and are often guilty of being naive in moments such as those which led to Smith Rowe’s strike.

“I have to defend my players, my team and my club,” said Arteta, who was overseeing his 100th match as Arsenal manager. “I would say that we are the most honest team and in some stages, we can even become naive. But still if he [Ranieri] felt like that towards our club, our team, I have to apologise if that is the case. But I am sure there is no intention to take any advantage.”

The victory moved Arsenal into fifth place in the Premier League and extended their unbeaten run to ten matches. It has been a remarkable turnaround in form since the start of the season, when they lost three consecutive games, and Smith Rowe’s goals have been crucial to Arsenal’s resurgence.

The 21-year-old has now scored in three league games in a row for his club, having been challenged by Arteta last season to add more goals and assists to his game. Smith Rowe had been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week but there is no questioning his importance to Arsenal, where he has been the most influential player in recent weeks.

Smith Rowe’s intervention saved the blushes of Aubameyang, who followed up his penalty miss by then snatching a goal away from Martin Odegaard in the second half. Odegaard’s shot appeared to be goal-bound when Aubameyang stuck out his studs in an offside position. Aubameyang has now missed his last two penalties, with Ben Foster denying the Arsenal captain here, but Arteta insisted he will not be stripped of the responsibility.

“He will stay on penalties if he is happy to do so,” said the Arsenal manager. “You will miss if you take penalties. This is part of your career and job, and we will try to help him.”

Watford's Ben Foster saves a first half penalty kick from Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Reuters
Watford's Ben Foster saves a first half penalty kick from Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Reuters

Watford’s late attempts to score an equaliser had caused nervousness in the Arsenal backline, with Joshua King almost scoring in an empty net after Aaron Ramsdale had failed to clear a long ball, but they lacked the same incision that was provided by Smith Rowe in the first half. Watford are just two points clear of the relegation zone going into the international break, and they face a perilous run of fixtures in the coming weeks.

The next four games for Ranieri’s side are against Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City. “We fought from the beginning,” said Ranieri. “But the quality of the Arsenal players is very high.”

Arsenal thought they had taken the lead as early as the seventh minute, when Bukayo Saka converted from close range. It was only after Saka and the Arsenal players had celebrated that the goal was ruled out for offside, and the atmosphere at the Emirates became increasingly edgy as Watford proved to be obdurate opponents. Although they were rarely in danger of conceding, Arsenal were in need of a dash of invention or a stroke of luck as they pursued the opener.

They got both at once, as Ben White opened up the Watford midfield with a weaving dribble before Smith Rowe’s low shot was deflected, low and hard, beyond Foster. From there, Arsenal were largely able to keep Watford at arm’s length until the final few minutes, when Watford pushed high up the pitch.

A second yellow card to Juraj Kucka robbed them of any hope of a comeback, though, as Arsenal held on for a deserved, albeit controversial, victory.

03:57 PM

Full time: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Arsenal win their third successive PL match - and Emile Smith Rowe scores for his third in a row.

Bit of bad feeling between the coaching staffs at the end. Rose had put the ball out because a Watford player was hurt and Arsenal refused to give the ball back to them.

Over to Sam Dean for the report. Please join me over here West Ham vs Liverpool, Premier League: live score and latest updates

03:56 PM

90+ mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Martinelli, on as a sub, looking lively. Watford not able to fashion a chance... they lose it. Foul on Martinelli. That's going to be the lot.

03:51 PM

90+ mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Six minutes to play. Arsenal looking the boys most likely. Tavares seems to be clear down the left and has Aumbameyang inside. Awful cross, what a waste.

03:50 PM

90 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Watford under the pump! They cannot clear the corner, a shot comes back in, well saved.... Albert Sambi Lokonga properly lashed that. Good stop B Foster.

03:49 PM

88 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Finally Kevin Friend gets to use that red card! It's Watford bruiser Juraj Kucka, who has to be fair looked a candidate ever since going in the book early on in the first. Tavares the victim on this occasion.

It gives Aubameyang/Odegaard a freekick on the edge of the area. The latter takes it. Into the wall. Corner.

03:46 PM

84 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Arsenal and possibly England's talked-up goalie has made a terrible mistake. Josh King chases one down the left channel, Aaron Ramsdale comes rushing out, fails to get there, and King goes round him. The Norwegian tries to slot it home from an admittedly difficult, tight angle and... does not.

03:44 PM

84 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Watford having a go, Arsenal standing off them more than one would like. Arteta makes just such a point.

03:41 PM

82 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Gabriel the latest in a seemingly endless list of bookings. It's hardly been a blood and thunder affair, more niggly.

03:40 PM

80 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Maybe that Aubameyang one wouldn't have gone in just then. Would probs have hit the post. In off the post or not we shall never know. To be fair, he was right to go for it.

03:33 PM

73 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Arsenal have the ball in the net. It's offside. Aubameyang the man who turned it in from point blank range. Amusingly, I think it might have gone in anyway - the goalie was not in the frame - had the Frenchman not stuck his oar in. Ødegaard the man who had produced an excellent run and shot, only for his colleague to spoil it all.

03:32 PM

72 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Josh King gets hold of a shot, Aubameyang with a useful block to deny the Norwegian.

03:31 PM

71 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Ismaila Sarr down the right for Watford, doesn't look to know quite what he is going to do with the ball. Tavares comes vaguely near him so Sarr throws himself on the floor. Referee Fwend, who is in credulous form today, gives him a handily placed freekick. Cleared.

03:29 PM

69 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Martin Odegaard on for Alexandre Lacazette.

03:28 PM

68 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Joao Pedro and Ben White the latest to tangle. A right mardy affair this, without ever really breaking out into a proper bench-clearer.

03:27 PM

66 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Saka from the right, a lovely run across from Aubameyang and he's just a slightly longer stud away from slotting that past Ben F and wrapping this one up. Smashing ball in from Saka.

03:22 PM

62 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Ozan Tufan off, Pedro on.

Far too much fouling/claims of fouling in this match for it to be a coherent spectacle.

03:20 PM

60 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Josh King has run into/brushed/been contacted by Gabriel and is seemingly in significant pain.

03:19 PM

58 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

But their protests are in vain.

03:18 PM

57 mins: Arsenal 1 Watford 0

Watford are protesting because they think that Maitland-Niles fouled Sarr in the build up. And, I think also because they think that Arsenal should have thrown the ball back to them a little bit before.

03:16 PM

GOAL! Arsenal 1 Watford 0 (Smith Rowe 56)

Watford try to play it out of defence but come unstuck. Arsenal sweep forward via Ben White, Sissoko stops him, but it breaks kindly for the hosts. and Emile Smith Rowe pounces to strike it home. Really crisp finish.

03:13 PM

53 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Moussa Sissoko is the latest player into referee Fwend's notebook. Albert Sambi Lokonga the victim.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang booked for fouling Kiko Femenia

03:12 PM

Injustice detected

03:09 PM

49 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Lacazette tries to worm his way through and find Smith-Rowe but Watford have bodies back and it is Nicolas Nkoulou who eventually hacks clear.

03:07 PM

46 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Right then. Who can break the deadlock? Young master Saka has been at the forefront of most of Arsenal's good work. Zippy progress down the right here, cut back for Albert Sambi Lokonga, who hits it solidly enough but no dice.

03:02 PM

Players coming out

for the second half.

03:00 PM

Can Arsenal grind these down?

02:52 PM

Aroond the groonds

It's goalless at Goodison as Spurs and Everton draw a blank. 1-1 between Leeds and Leicester.

02:51 PM

Half time: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Well, there you have it. Not terrible entertainment, but not a great deal of football. Two moments of note: Arsenal having a goal chalked off for offside, the scorer so far offside that the linesman must have momentarily forgotten the rules, and then an amusing episode where Broadway Danny Rose gave away the most blatant of penalties, only for Aubameyang to fluff his lines from the spot.

02:46 PM

45 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Everyone rushing around like billy-o but there's not a lot in the way of quality of composure from either side. Watford well in it.

Rose, who seems to be doing his level best to get sent off but has yet to see so much as a yellow, has tripped Lacazette once again.

02:43 PM

42 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Kucka, a powerful sort, drives through and hits a shot. Deflected off, I think, Ben White and out for a corner. Said corner is Something From The Training Ground, and it finds Danny Rose. Strikes it well enough from the edge of the area but does not hit paydiirt.

02:40 PM

38 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Arsenal nevertheless well on top. Saka getting loads of time and space out on the right, plays it back in. Tavares goes fairly close.

02:37 PM

35 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

SAVED! Well done Ben Foster! It was a very poor penalty, he dived to his right but went too far, as it were, nevertheless managing to haul it away with his trailing hand. Good save, bad pen.

02:36 PM

34 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Broadway Danny Rose continues to protest, but God knows why.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang steps up

02:35 PM

33 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Smith-Rowe delivers a freekick in, it is half cleared, played back into the box via a hopeless mis-hit shot from Tavares that turns into a highly effective, unintentional garryowen. Lacazette is under the high ball and Danny Rose, for reasons only he can know, has absolutely cleaned him out! Nowhere near getting the ball, legs all over the place, arms up.

Clear penalty and he's very lucky not to be sent off as well.

02:32 PM

31 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

In fact, most of the recent action has been fouling related.

Rose has kicked Saka. Tomiyasu booked for fouling Sarr.

Aubammers tries an overhead kick, but manages only kick an opponent.

02:31 PM

30 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Juraj Kucka has gone in the book for going through the back of Lacazette.

02:25 PM

23 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

The Hornets are coming into this a bit more in the last few minutes.

02:23 PM

21 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Saka, bright as a button, with a hard cross, Aubameyang cannot make much of it.

Watford's Ismaila Sarr in action with Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles - Reuters
Watford's Ismaila Sarr in action with Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles - Reuters

02:22 PM

19 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Albert Sambi Lokonga is booked for hauling down the breaking Juraj Kucka, who then gets involved in a bit of afters.

02:21 PM

18 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Watford have done naff all. Lokonga has had an effort from distance barely worthy of the name.

02:15 PM

13 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Arsenal get another corner, Femenia is saying that he never touched that last and he might well be right. Anyway, the set piece is cleared easily enough.

02:10 PM

10 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Josh King goes into the book for backing into/making contact with Gabriel.

Elsewhere, by the way, another Premier League gaffer bites the dust. Villa's Dean Smith.

02:09 PM

7 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Arsenal have the ball in the net, and it has come about because they've pressed with real energy and togetherness. Maitland-Niles hunts down an opponent, and then slots if through to Aubameyang. Ben Foster rushes out, but Aubameyang tries to chip him. The goalie's got himself in a mess, it falls to Lacazette, whose touch is off - Saka sneaks in and slots it away. But the offside flag has saved Watford.

That Saka offside: if Aubameyang had slotted it away (as he should have), then Saka's clear offside would have been irrelevant - Sky Sports
That Saka offside: if Aubameyang had slotted it away (as he should have), then Saka's clear offside would have been irrelevant - Sky Sports

02:04 PM

4 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

This looks a decent opportunity for Lacazette, who has found himself in some space in the area, but the ball won't quite drop for him.

02:03 PM

2 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Tavares and Saka have combined to win a corner for Arsenal. They've been handy from set pieces of late, the Gunners. Watford get this away fine.

02:01 PM

1 mins: Arsenal 0 Watford 0

Arsenal stroking it around happily enough, Watford chasing them.

02:01 PM

Watford's form has been mixed

A splendid demolition of Everton at Goodison, a hammering from Liverpool, a win over Southampton. Who knows, basically.

Anyway, we will know shortly! Kick off ahoy.

01:58 PM

Right then

Kick off coming up at the Emirates. Arsenal are unbeaten in nine in all competitions. They have rebounded really well from getting pumped 0-5 by Man City.

01:43 PM


Arsenal vs Watford live: score and latest updates from Premier League
Arsenal vs Watford live: score and latest updates from Premier League

01:33 PM

Aaron Ramsdale - England's number one?

Stand by yer beds, Arsenal fans: here is the splendid Mr Mike McGrath with tell of your highly promising young goalie.

"It shows how far Aaron Ramsdale has come since the summer that Gareth Southgate is now planning the right time to give the Arsenal goalkeeper his England debut.

Ramsdale, 23, was on stand-by when Southgate named his squad for the European Championship and his fourth-choice may have been forgiven for wanting to head to the beach rather than to make up the numbers, having just consecutive relegations.

His decision to head to England’s training camp at Rockliffe Hall in Darlington and give everything for a final week was the right decision. Nick Pope’s injury saw Ramsdale included for the Euros, where he also spoke to Southgate about moving back to the Premier League.

“Aaron did talk to me in the summer about the possibility of moving,” Southgate said. “When players ask me things like that I don’t put the England context on it because I often read about players having to move because of their World Cup hopes.

“Well, yes, but in the end they have got to be content and happy with life at their club - and that’s got to be the first thing you sort out. He knew there was a challenge going to Arsenal and trying to get in the team.

“He’s got in earlier than he thought he might have done when he initially moved there, but he was prepared to take the challenge on.”

Ramsdale’s personality and playing his part in pushing Jordan Pickford in training was part of the thinking behind picking him for the Euros.

His character has shone through at Arsenal since breaking into the first team and keeping his place ahead of Bernd Leno. He went viral for joining in with Leicester fans with the familiar chant of “You’re s***, ahhhhh” towards goalkeeper’s taking a long kick.

“When we picked him in the summer, we got stick for picking a ‘keper that had got relegated. So it’s funny how things change, isn’t it?” said Southgate.,

“We have liked that personality. One of the reasons we brought him in in the summer, we knew that personality form the Under-20s, the Under-21s. He’d been across to train with us previously. We felt he fitted in with the group really well. He understood that his role was to sacrifice for the group.

“He’s progressing really well. Of course he’s got to do this now over a longer period of time. But his performances at the end of last season were very good and his performances at the beginning of this season have been very good as well.”

When Ramsdale makes his debut will depend on when England qualify for the World Cup. They could secure their place in Qatar on Friday if they beat Albania and results go their way, although they may need a point against San Marino.

“One of the things I’m conscious of is when players travel and don’t always play that it has got a shelf-life and over the years with goalkeepers that has caused quite a few to retire from international football,” said Southgate.

“We’ve tried to manage that with Nick Pope and Sam Johnstone and a few others. We’ve tried to give them a taste. At some point, we’ll be doing that with Aaron. Yes, there’s a contest on. And that’s good for everyone. We’ve got competition in every position and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case in goal.”

Southgate also kept the door open for Ramsdale’s team-mnate Emile Smith-Rowe following his recent impressive form.

“Normally when they're here, when we can we go and have a look at the Under-21s train, we watch all their matches of course, club and international, and whenever Emile's been in I've had a quick chat with him,” he said.

“Part of what I've said in today's press conference is exactly to get that message to him as well, he's a player that we know is close but he's still very young, early stages, I don't think he would let us down if we brought him in but also if we bring him in is he in for good or are others going to come in ahead of him in March and then we're putting him back down?”

01:26 PM

Important reading for Arsenal fans

01:23 PM


01:12 PM

So a strong side

for Arsenal, and one that looks to have plenty of attacking threat with Lacazette and Aubameyang up top, and ably supported by Saka and Smith-Rowe.

01:09 PM

Teams in full

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Saka, Sambi Lokonga, Maitland-Niles, Smith-Rowe, Lacazette, Aubameyang. Subs: Leno, Tierney, Odegaard, Holding, Cedric, Pepe, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli.

Watford: Foster, Femenia, N'Koulou, Cathcart, Rose, Sissoko, Sarr, Tufan, Kucka, Bonaventure, King. Subs: Ngakia, Troost-Ekong, Cleverley, Joao Pedro, Masina, Fletcher, Bachmann, Hernandez, Sierralta.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

01:03 PM

Team news

01:02 PM

Arteta: Emile Smith Rowe should be patient

Mikel Arteta has preached patience to Emile Smith Rowe after the Arsenal star was omitted from the latest England squad.

Smith Rowe has yet to earn a senior cap but was tipped for a Three Lions call-up having netted four goals in his last seven games.

However, Gareth Southgate overlooked the Arsenal academy graduate who was instead included in the England Under-21s squad.

Smith Rowe will be looking to add to his impressive recent goal tally when Watford visit the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

A place at the 2022 World Cup is likely to be Smith Rowe's target but Gunners boss Arteta has told the 21-year-old to maintain his current performances at club-level and not worry about England.

Asked what Smith Rowe needs to do to get a senior England call-up, Arteta replied: "Consistency and again increase his level.

"There are players that have played 300 games in this league and never played for the national team. We want everything to be so quick. Be patient.

"It's the first year, really, that he's having these consecutive performances and appearances, at a level where you are really considering that option.

"It doesn't have to happen straight away. Sometimes that's not good."

Arteta also revealed that Smith Rowe has taken the advice of his manager on board: "He does.

"He has shown through his career, in moments when he had to go a step sideways to now be in a position that he is in, to do it.

"He did it in a really convincing way and a humble way. If he continues like that we know that he has the talent, he has the work ethic, he has the personality and the ability to do so. It will come."

Smith Rowe is battling with a number of in-form fully-fledged internationals to earn a place in Southgate's thinking,

In contrast, defender Benjamin White has also missed out on a recall despite impressing since his summer move from Brighton.

He was overlooked even though Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings are out of form and John Stones has struggled for minutes at Manchester City.

"The squad that the England national team is able to put together today is incredible," said Arteta when asked about White missing out.

"They are showing in every tournament the level that they have.

"Ben, no question, has the ability, the quality and now the performances to be there. In the end, Gareth has to make the decision and Ben has to continue exactly where he is.

"If you look at his progression in the last two seasons, what he's done, he is in the right direction."