Troy Deeney insists that he does not regret his comments that Arsenal lacked ‘cojones’ following their defeat to Watford during the 2017-18 season.
The Gunners were beaten 2-1 at Vicarage Road during Arsene Wenger’s final season at the club, after a penalty from Deeney and an injury-time winner from Tom Cleverley overturned Per Mertesacker’s first half opener.
After the game, Wenger bemoaned the referee's decision to award Watford a penalty, before Deeney controversially claimed that the real reason Arsenal were beaten was because they’re a side that has always lacked ‘cojones’.
Speaking ahead of the two sides’ latest clash on Monday evening, Deeney says he stands by what he said.
“I just gave an honest opinion and if a few people don’t like it, tough,” Deeney claimed in in Tales From The Vicarage Volume 7.
“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, and I might have been better off just saving it for the boozer afterwards, but I don’t ever regret it,” Deeney said.
The Watford striker, who scored a vital last-minute penalty in the Hornets’ FA Cup semi-final victory over Wolves earlier this month, was keen to point out that he did not intend to criticise former Arsenal boss Wenger with his comments.
“People used it as a pretext for saying Arsene Wenger should go as the Arsenal manager – but I never said that, and I’ve got nothing but respect for Mr Wenger. He built the Invincibles, one of the greatest football teams we’ve ever seen in this country.”
The 30-year-old forward, who Javi Gracia claims is England’s best striker, says his comments still get mixed reactions from football fans he speaks to in public.
“If I’m out in London now, I get Arsenal fans coming up to me and saying, ‘That cojones comment was out of order, but fair play for saying what you think’” he added.
“Others will tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘Good on you, Troy, I’ve been saying that for years’.
“I was the first one to come out and say it, and one or two people piled into me. But when they lost at Brighton , Swansea, Bournemouth and others, it was safe for experts to come out and say, ‘They have the quality but they lack the fight’. It gave others a licence to repeat it.
Watford can jump up to seventh place with a victory over Arsenal on Monday, as they look to secure a spot in next season’s Europa League before their cup final showdown with Manchester City in May.