The Gunners manager admits his team were not ready for the battle
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that his team were mentally not ready for Watford's challenge as he watched another Premier League title tilt appear to evaporate into thin air.
With Liverpool facing Chelsea in one of the night's other league fixtures and a trip to face leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, this week could have been pivotal for the Gunners if they had managed to get the wins they needed.
A home tie against a mid-table Watford side appeared to be an opportunity to set down a marker ahead of the challenge to come at Chelsea.
But they contrived to slip to a 2-1 home defeat at the Emirates as the Hornets scored two early goals via ex-Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul and captain Troy Deeney with 15 minutes of the start.
Alex Iwobi pulled one back just before the hour mark but it was too little too late.
And Wenger owned up to his teams failings on the night when he spoke to Sky Sports after full time.
"We missed our first half, especially I feel that on the mental front we were not ready for the challenges and a bit in between and maybe we paid a heavy price for that," he said.
The defeat was Wenger's second match of a four game touchline ban imposed by the FA.
With Liverpool and Chelsea drawing 1-1 at Anfield, Arsenal slipped a further point behind the Blues on a night they had earmarked to close the gap.