Watford 1 (Pereyra 57) – Arsenal 3 (Cazorla 9 (pen), Sanchez 40, Ozil 46)
Man of the Match – Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
With a quite boring Interlull weekend gone by, it was again time for some much needed Premier League action, as Arsenal made the short trip across London to play Watford. The Hornets, now managed by Walter Mazzari, have had a mixed start to the season themselves, drawing away at Southampton, before losing a hard fought game at home to Chelsea.
With no new signings imminent at the back, new signing Rob Holding kept his place in the centre of defence, alongside Laurent Koscielny. Elsewhere, the manager decided to start with Granit Xhaka in the centre of midfield, alongside Santi Cazorla, in place of Francis Coquelin; as Mesut Ozil started his first game of the season.
A quiet start preceded a 8th minute penalty in favour of the Gunners, when Nordin Amrabat barged into Alexis Sanchez in the penalty box, with his elbow. Santi Cazorla obliged with a neatly taken penalty, as former Spurs stopper Heurelho Gomes guessed wrong. Cazorla then saw his shot go across the goal, having been setup by Alexis. Walcott, who was on the other end, managed to get to the end of it in the nick of time, only to see it strike the knees of Gomes and out.
At the other end, Laurent Koscielny made it awkward for Petr Cech, with his attempted clearance threatening to go in. The Czech stopper, however, managed to palm it away. Watford enjoyed some possession as Arsenal were happy to allow the home side to play in front of them. Defender Christian Kabasele’s header went just wide. Moments later, Gomes pulled off two saves in quick succession, first when Ozil played in Alexis, and the Brazilian stopper used his feet to save; and then a shot from Ozil which he saved from his near post.
It didn’t matter though, as Arsenal were 2-0 up within minutes of that. Hector Bellerin played in Theo Walcott, whose cross was clumsily bundled over the line by Alexis Sanchez. Really doesn’t matter where they come from.
Granit Xhaka was impressive in the first half, putting in tackles and distributing the ball around with consummate ease. He set up Walcott, but Gomes managed to pull off another save. Xhaka, then created space for Alexis on the left, drawing defenders into him, and the Chilean crossed into the box, with Mesut Ozil heading home Arsenal’s third goal of the afternoon. The Gunners went into half time with a resounding 3-0 lead.
The second half was a completely different story though, as Watford appeared a transformed team. Record Argentine signing Roberto Pereyra replaced Algerian international Adlene Guedioura, at half time. Arsenal got sight of goal early in the second half, when Walcott cut back a cross, but no one was on hand to meet it.
Dutch international Daaryl Janmaat came on for Kabesele in the 51st minute. A right wing cross from Bellerin was too quick for Alexis to catch, before in-form French midfielder Etienne Capoue saw his shot from distance being saved by Cech. Watford would soon pull one back, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was robbed off the ball. Arsenal failed to deal with a cross that came in and Pereyra netted home to make it 1-3.
Walcott, then spotted Gomes off the line, and attempted to chip him, but missed. Chamberlain repeated the trick and failed too, when he should ideally played in Alexis and Walcott who were in a better position to score. Matches like these can be decided by thing margins, and Chamberlain’s miss could have proved costly, had Watford’s effort, moments later gone in. A shot from distance was fluffed away by Cech, and Nigerian international Odion Ighalo couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball, as Cech grabbed the ball just in time.
Jack Wilshere and Mohomad Elneny came on for Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on 70 minutes. Ighalo then attempted an overhead kick, but it went just inches over the bar, as the score remained at 1-3. An injury to Nacho Monreal, meant Kieran Gibbs came on to replace the Spaniard, as the manager looked to close the game. Watford bought on their wonderfully named new signing, Isaac Success, whose first involvement was a header from a corner, which was dealt with by the away side.
Xhaka’s international teammate, Valon Behrami, then screwed a shot wide from the edge of the box. Younes Kaboul was then robbed off the ball by Alexis, who too tried to chip Gomes, when he should have played in a better positioned Walcott. In the end, Arsenal made home with 3 points.
Finally, a first win of the season, and hopefully the season can kick on from here. Defensive and attacking reinforcements, hopefully to come in the next few days.
Jai Arsenal! 🙂
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