This game was billed as a must win at a ridiculously early stage of the season, but with the early pacesetters 5pts ahead before kickoff, the gap could not be allowed to stretch.
So this meant that a win at Vicarage Road was vital, but with Watford playing so well against Chelsea one week previously, it was evident it wouldn’t be a cakewalk – even if Arsenal’s Premier League record against the Hornets is unblemished in the last 7games.
So, a vital victory, but what can we take from the game, other than maximum points? Here are some facts that were underlined during the game:
Xhaka is up to speed:
We had enjoyed mere whiffs of his class in his appearances thus far, but the Swiss battler put on a show for the travelling fans in this game. Full of running, tackles on point, and speedy, efficient distribution. Exactly what was advertised when we purchased him.
Alexis on fire
He may consider a new piece of equipment at the gym as a holiday, but Sanchez seems to be nearing full throttle after yet another action packed summer with Chile. He scored one, assisted another and earned the penalty after giving Nordin Amrabat a torrid time. Wonderful to witness.
We have missed Özil & Santi
Özil scored on his return, with a header that looked effortless. It wasn’t the finish that should draw the plaudits though. His run into the box was exquisite, and no defender was aware of his presence. The German ninja is so adept with his spacial awareness, that it allowed him a header unchallenged. Santi was the perfect foil for Xhaka, always a willing outlet to relieve pressure, and we look so much more capable with both of these men in the side.
Cech isn’t finished
People who doubted one of the finest keepers the League has ever seen, should feel fickle and foolish. The stopper was responsible for keeping the pressure off his team, as he stopped Watford grabbing a second goal which would’ve meant for a tense last section of the game. The becapped Czech will do it again this season too, and earn us his fair share of points.
Holding can be scarily good
Again, the 20yr old, in only his 3rd PL app, showed resilience beyond his years. He may yet be ousted by the incoming Mustafi, but if he is this good at 20, just imagine where he could be at 28? The sky is the limit.
Watford gave a good account of themselves, and if Cech wasn’t on form, or if the finishing was a little less errant, then they could have snatched a late draw – but that would have been undeserved.
The first half showing from our team was welcome for two reasons. One, they showed that the intricate passing, and dynamic movement which is meant to be our forte, is still within our grasp when we need it. Secondly, it was great to see us finally go at a team in the first half, rather than be reactionary and leave it until the last 30mins.
There is still work to do, but we all know what we are capable of, and it was great to see us fizzing the ball around. First victory of the season, we are up and running.