Arsenal beaten by Watford in behind-closed-doors friendly | Football

Arsenal were beaten 4-2 by Watford in a behind-closed-doors friendly (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal stepped up their preparations ahead of the Premier League resumption with a behind-closed-doors friendly against Watford on Sunday.

The Gunners haven’t played a competitive fixture since their 2-0 win over Wolves on November 12, a victory which helped Mikel Arteta’s squad move five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table after 14 games.

Arsenal were without the likes of Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli but were still able to call upon the likes of club captain Martin Odegaard and Kieran Tierney.

Goals from Eddie Nketiah and Marquinhos saw Arsenal lead 2-1 at the break, but after making 10 changes at the interval a makeshift XI fell away in the second period and succumbed to a 4-2 defeat.

Nketiah could be set for a more prominent role later this month given the injury Jesus sustained during Brazil’s defeat against Cameroon on Friday which will rule him out of the rest of the tournament.

Arsenal are back in action against West Ham on Boxing Day and will be loathe to be without the services of their headline £45million summer signing who has had such a galvanising impact on Arsenal’s forward line and the club as a whole.

According to ESPN, Jesus is expected to remain with the Brazil squad to undergo further tests but Arsenal’s newly promoted sporting director Edu is already in touch with his compatriot Juninho hoping to negotiate the striker’s early return to north London.

Gabriel Jesus has suffered a World Cup ending knee injury (Picture: Getty)

A statement from the Brazilian FA read: ‘As announced by the Brazilian FA after the game against Cameroon, players Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus underwent tests on Saturday morning.

‘Accompanied by the Brazilian National Team doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, they underwent an MRI on the right knee that confirmed the injuries and the impossibility of recovery in time to participate in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

‘The coordinator of the Brazilian National Team, Juninho Paulista, is in contact with the sports directors of Arsenal and Sevilla to define whether Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus remain with the squad in Doha to continue the treatment or return to their clubs.’

Arsenal fly to Dubai on Sunday for a warm weather training camp but Ben White will remain in London after he returned home from England’s World Cup squad for personal reasons earlier this week.

Emile Smith Rowe will, however, be part of the touring party and step up his rehabilitation having been out of action since September with a groin injury.

MORE : Arsenal in talks with Brazil over early Gabriel Jesus return after World Cup injury hammer blow

MORE : Ben White not included in initial Arsenal squad flying to Dubai for training camp

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