Arsenal’s win over Watford in the Hertfordshire Training Ground Derby was seminal in many ways for itself – but it assumed an even bigger importance given the rest of the results.
To quickly recap – Arsenal literally leapt over Watford in the table after securing 3 points on Saturday. Chelsea hosted Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and a very hectic game ended in a 1-1 draw – thus ensuring two very important rivals dropped points. Over in Manchester – the Sky Blue side of the city cruised to yet another home win. Meanwhile the Red half was playing in the London Stadium and managed to capitulate rather hilariously on and off the field to a 3-1 loss to West Ham.
The Gunners were on a streak of 4 wins in a row in the League and made it a perfect 5 / 5 with a 2:0 win over the Hornets. Javi Garcia’s team have played some exciting football in this new season and have the results to back up their brand of gritty yet attacking gameplay. Their last win now was over our embattled lilly-white neighbours – a 2:1 victory over Spurs.
The first half was a rather scrappy affair with no side being particularly dominant. Aaron Ramsey started at North London despite the news that an extension for the Welshman’s contract seems unlikely and a possible sale in the January Transfer window. The only other major change was Rob Holding in the centre of defence alongside Shkodran Mustafi, deputising for the injured Sokratis.
Lucas Torreira & Granit Xhaka continued their solid midfield partnership while Mesut Ozil, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang & Alexander Lacazette led the attack.
Despite a number of fouls being committed the Watford players avoided being penalized – but for Troy Deeney, who was rightly booked for a rather nasty tackle on Nacho Monreal. In the dying minutes of the first half – skipper Petr Cech pulled a hamstring and had to be substituted. In came Bernd Leno who’s first involvement was virtually the last kick of the first half.
Leno kicked off the proceedings of the second half with a rather impressive save off Deeney’s effort. He continued to grow in stature as Watford ran ragged but were unable to convert any chances. Another factor for keeping the Hornets’ at bay was Rob Holding who had a very impressive performance as well. Hector Bellerin was unlucky to not get a direct return for his near constant crosses while Monreal was solid in his own way. Mustafi enjoyed a rather non calamitous afternoon as the cheery on top of a clean sheet cake!
The ineffective Ramsey was taken off for Alex Iwobi and gradually Danny Welbeck was introduced for Aubameyang as well. Both proved to be inspired subs. In quick succession – Arsenal first took the lead through a Craig Cathcart own goal [https://streamable.com/zroqr] who was under immense pressure from Lacazette. Quickly afterwards doubled the lead when Lacazette turned provider to Mesut Ozil [https://streamja.com/y5VO] who clinically finished to seal three points for the Gunners. Earning a win after such a difficult game in this dramatic, frenzied style has become a bit of a hallmark for the Emery’s men but for now it’s a welcome change!
Arsenal are now in the fifth spot in the table and the most inform team in the League. Emery will have to shift gears and rotate the squad as an Europa League game away in Azerbaijan to Qarabag FK – for which Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan might sit out voluntarily due to the diplomatic tensions between the two nations.