Arsenal 2 Watford 4: Gunners lose behind-closed-doors friendly with TEN first-team stars in action

WAT ON EARTH? ARSENAL lost 4-2 to Watford in a behind-closed-doors friendly earlier today.

Many of the Gunners’ key stars are in Qatar playing in the World Cup – but those that aren’t returned to training this week.

Mikel Arteta ran the rule over his stars
In order to try and keep their non-World Cup stars sharp, they set up a training match against the Championship Hornets.

Ten first-team players started in Mikel Arteta’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation – including captain Martin Odegaard.

Third choice stopper Karl Hein was between the sticks, with a back four in front of him comprising of Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney.

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Mohamed Elneny partnered Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield, with Odegaard further forward.

Arteta deployed Reiss Nelson and Marquinhos on the wings, with Eddie Nketiah up front.

Arsenal took the lead on 28 minutes, when Watford could only scramble Cedric’s cross as far as Marquinhos, the Brazilian sending a shot beyond the Hornets keeper from the edge of the penalty area.

Watford levelled after 36 minutes, when former Aston Villa forward Keinan Davis pounced to slot past Hein and make it 1-1.

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The Hornets’ parity didn’t last long, however, with Nketiah heading home a Tierney cross just three minutes later.

Arsenal went into half-time leading 2-1, before making 10 changes at the break.

Only Hein remained on the field from the starters, and even he was withdrawn on 58 minutes.

The Gunners’ second half side comprised entirely of youth team players, and fans will remember one of the subs Ethan Nwaneri, who made his Prem debut aged 15 earlier this season.

Watford made their extra experience count in the second-half, putting their youthful opponents to the sword – with goals by Davis, Yaser Asprilla and Joao Pedro doing the trick.

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Arsenal are set to jet out to the Middle East and are scheduled to play two matches in the Dubai Super Cup while out in the UAE.

They will face Ligue 1 side Lyon on December 8, before taking on Italian giants AC Milan five days later.

The Gunners will then host Juventus on December 17, before resuming their Prem campaign against West Ham on Boxing Day.

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