Goals in either half from Keinan Davis helped to secure a 4-2 win for Watford over Arsenal at the Gunners’ training ground in London Colney in a competitive friendly test.

Davis rounded goalkeeper Karl Hein to level the score after Marquinhos put the hosts ahead just before the half-hour mark, with Eddie Nketiah’s header sending the Premier League side into the break with a 2-1 lead.

Equalising with a header via Davis five minutes into the second 45, the Hornets struck through Yáser Asprilla and João Pedro to ensure a convincing victory for Slaven Bilić’s Golden Boys, as they prepare for next Sunday’s return to Sky Bet Championship action against Hull City.

Aside from World Cup absentees, both sides put out full-strength teams for the friendly encounter. Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny stung the gloves of Daniel Bachmann eight minutes in with a half-volley that the Austrian was equal to, tipping Kieran Tierney’s low effort wide of the far post seconds later.

Arsenal certainly controlled the early stages but were unable to fashion clear-cut chances inside the box, as the Hornets limited them to shots from outside the box. Brazilian winger Marquinhos’ opener came in that fashion, whipping a powerful strike into the bottom corner.

Edo Kayembe had Watford’s first shot soon following the goal, showing for Davis 20 yards out and fizzing a right-footed attempt wide.

The Golden Boys wasted little time to level the score as João Pedro whipped a dangerous through ball into the path of Davis, and the striker showed excellent composure to take the ball round Hein and slot home.

Watford remained competitive but the Gunners took control of the game leading up to the half-time whistle, and the third goal of the afternoon came swiftly after the first two, as Tierney’s well-timed delivery found Nketiah, who diverted his header downwards past Bachmann.

Arsenal changed every outfield player at the break with a substitution of their goalkeeper 15 minutes later, while Watford opted for four alterations at half-time, bringing on Joseph Hungbo, Francisco Sierralta, William Troost-Ekong and Ben Hamer.

The lively Hungbo was involved straight away, darting into space at every turn to exchange passes out wide and through the middle. Stepping up for a free-kick on the left flank, Hungbo curled his cross effectively towards the head of Davis to even the scores once again.

João Pedro became the only remaining player from the starting team to be on the pitch for the full game, but displayed no signs of fatigue. The Brazilian coasted between several red shirts in a move that started in the Hornets’ defensive third before laying off for Asprilla to cut onto his left foot and cannon a shot into the top corner, giving Watford the lead for the first time in the afternoon.

His mazy runs would lead to the fourth goal also, cutting in and out to fool the defender and flicking the ball towards goal, earning a big deflection in the process.

In the end, 21 Watford players got run-outs at London Colney including 17-year-old Adrian Blake, and the young winger showed positive glimpses in attack including a well-timed through ball for Tom Dele-Bashiru that nearly led to a fifth goal.

With the game played at a high intensity, both squads will be pleased with the pace of the friendly, as they prepare for a return to league action in the coming weeks.



Bachmann (GK) (Hamer GK HT), Ngakia (Gaspar 60’), Choudhury (Pollock 70’), Davis (Bayo 60’), João Pedro, Sema (Hungbo HT), Kamara (Morris 70’), Cathcart (c)(Sierralta HT), Asprilla (Blake 70’), Kabasele (Troost-Ekong HT), Kayembe (Dele-Bashiru HT)

Subs not used: Marriott (GK)

Goals: Davis (35’) (50’), Asprilla (59’), João Pedro (77’)


Hein (GK) (Graczyk GK 58’), Cedric (Walters HT), Holding (Foran HT), Gabriel (Monlouis HT), Tierney (Sousa HT), Elneny (Lewis-Skelly HT), Lokonga (Nwaneri HT), Odegaard (Smith HT), Nelson (Butler-Oyedeji HT), Marquinhos (Sagoe Jr HT), Nketiah (Cozier-Duberry HT).

Subs not used: Awe, Cirjan, Ideho.

Goals: Marquinhos (28’) Nketiah (38’)

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