Watford Review & Incomings

Watford 1 – 3 Arsenal

There was nothing flattering about the scoreline as Arsenal recorded their first win of the season. Capping off what has been a rare good day for Arsène this summer, he announced the arrivals of Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi in his post-match interview.

It was a good performance on the whole. A little twitchy toward the end as we tried to close out the game but we have previous in that. Before the final phase of the match, Arsenal’s passing had been as good as we had seen for some time.

The front three played with a verve and vibrancy which had been so noticeable by its absence. Theo Walcott in particular, stood out. It was probably his best game in an Arsenal shirt for some considerable time.

An early goal helped Arsenal on their way. The penalty was the sort which drives you to despair if you concede and to be honest, even when it was awarded, there was no guarantee we would score. A ‘Dead-Eye’ Dixon is someone we don’t possess but a smile returned to Santi’s face as he scored from the spot kick.

That eased the nerves and the passing flowed from there. It wasn’t perfect – far from it – but after the opening day debacle and dreary performance at Leicester, it was a step in the right direction. A rather large one.

At the heart of it was Granit Xhaka, mixing a range of passing into his defensive work, calmly and unflustered. The rashness of his debut has subsided and the partnership with Santi Cazorla clicked into gear seamlessly.

The second goal arrived in typical Arsenal ‘playing well’ fashion. Passes pinged around the pitch, with Walcott placing a delicious cross which Alexis skewed over the line.  Cruising, things got better when Mesut Özil added a third after the Watford defence stood and admired Alexis in his natty blue and neon strip.

Özil’s timing was perfect, a sharp sprint with determination to beat the defender to the ball. The powerful header was unstoppable. Perfect timing to take a commanding lead into the break.

Arsène later lamented not adding a fourth and it’s not hard to see why. Watford pulled one back with a serious defensive cock-up. The ball pinged around the Arsenal box, the defence refused to clear the ball and were punished.

Ighalo’s miss might have made things even more nervy has it been slightly lower. It wasn’t so, meh.

Things still aren’t right but they are getting there. The international break is arriving at the wrong time. Wenger has a fair point; after a summer tournament the scheduling of a fortnight off this early in the season is daft even from a football perspective.

Wenger highlighted Rob Holding’s performance. He deserves it, and for last week as well. Definitely one for the future, proving his worth now? Possibly, he is surely going to be given more chances  this season, particularly in the domestic cup games.

Things continued to get better for Wenger when he confirmed the impending arrival of Perez and Mustafi. Medicals passed, paperwork processing, etc. It seems unlikely there will be any more arrivals, dashing the dreams of a late splurge. Most clubs seem to be looking to offload at the moment and we still have a few to dispense with, permanently or on loan.

A busy few days for the Transfer Window Action Team with Wednesday’s deadline looming.

’til Tomorrow.

73 thoughts on “Watford Review & Incomings

  1. I was well pleased with both the game and the result.

    We lost a bit in the second half especially with the subs, but that happens to all club teams and we need to bring in the new lads and get settled into a rhythm that all are samba-ing to.

    Grant definitely seems to be the ‘rock’ we have looked for over the years — but – [oh, come on, what is life without the occasional ‘but’? 😀 ] – the Watford goal was a stew in which many contributed, starting with Kos, and Granit blotted his otherwise super performance, when he tried to pull back the ball with his studs and buggered it up, leaving the Watford debutant a free shot.

    But that is just an observation, and things are definitely looking up — what will Andy and Wavey do for the rest of the season if this swallow turns out to be a forerunner of a great season? 😀

  2. All round better job as the scoreline implies. It is a good day when a player whose wages have prevented us selling him gets his head down and gives something back; I hope Theos passing and touch continues.

    We are still vulnerable to the counter and I believe that this is caused by pushing too many forward. It is ok against Watford, but from the upper third of the table we are going to have to play a different style of game if we don’t want to get beaten, or take many more of our own chances.

    Last season we were successful against the top teams when we defended and countered and we were successful against the lower teams playing expansive football. We failed against the mid to higher order teams, who were able to prevent us scoring and made it count in the two or three attacks that they had when we played expansively.

    If we had played with any of this surety in the previous two games we would not be welcoming the two new signings with the relief we are. Let us not hope it is too little too late.

  3. Yes Yogi,
    worth the wait.
    It’s almost past my bed time!
    I thought Xhaha was fantastic along with Cech and on the whole a strong team performance.

    I’ve just lost all love for Walcott. If that is in fact his best game in the shirt it goes a long way to explaining why.

    Great news on the two newest members of the Arsenal family and welcome.

    I’m holding out on Arsene signing one more before the window shuts.

    We need a number 9!

  4. Top quality review.

    We played much better then either of the first 2 games. Early goal helps. Great news regarding the new arrivals. The addition of mustafi cements our credentials as a top 4 team and Perez adds some depth. Now let’s see if we can surprise everyone and put together an actual title challenge.

  5. Fugzake Yogi you don’t half go overboard with the criticism! It wasn’t a serious defensive cock up! It was bad luck and kind ricochets (isn’t that the title of an old Ealing films comedy?)

    You are right about Theo tho. He was excellent

    Here’s to some well needed positivity and optimism!!

  6. Much more like it yesterday with plenty of movement off the ball for our passers to pick out.

    Holding certainly looks like a steal & nice to see Ozil score as he’s a more confident boy when he nets despite trotting out that assist is as pleasurable line we here from players so often.

    The Mustafi signing is very welcome although it’s one we wouldn’t have done without the injuries to Mertesacker & Gabriel, so every cloud & all that.

    Reports that we were offered Lucas a couple of weeks ago but turned the deal down suggest he’s a punt as the window starts to close rather than a long term target but they can turn out to be the best buys of all.

    Either way, Arsene now has the squad he wants & they should all be 100% match fit by the end of September so it’s over to the manager now to get the best out of them.

    No excuses.

  7. Paulie

    Doubt Perez was first choice but he has all the attributes to be a decent addition. A bit like Wiltord praps?

    Maybe he is a back up option and we are still ‘in the market’?

  8. Good report, YW. Let’s hope you have many more accounts of good wins this season.

    I would like to see more of this mobile attacking approach in our front line. It is actually fun to watch in addition to suiting our midfield.

  9. Afternoon all

    Is that a bit of baiting Mr H?

    Would love to see us actually having a crack at the title and if we had added a top striker as well I think we could. I think the team Wenger has now put together would probably have won the league last season. It just seems that we will have a bit more steel when Mustafi turns up and Perez will get some goals. This time around though I think the big boys have added the ammo to get the job done and we will be looking at our usual CL spot. It looks like it will be between the two Manc clubs and Chelsea in the final knockings and I wouldn’t be surprised if City makes it all three of them off to a perfect start by the end of today.

  10. Dexter; LSG

    The door is indeed shut as far as incomings are concerned. The manager said as much in his presser. Any further movement will be to do with those exiting the club, either on loan or permanently.

  11. What a pleasure it is to note the absence of undue criticism on this site, following yesterday’s win, coupled with two new transfer signings. And the Window is still open…… 😉

  12. I don’t know much about Perez, but he won’t need to be all that good to immediately replace Oxlade-Chamberlain. Perhaps Southampton would be willing to take him on loan for a season.

  13. I was impressed by Holding and yes, I know it I early but he has obviously beaten out Chambers even at this early point. I think a loan for Chambers is a great option, especially with an EPL team as long as he gets time on the pitch. Chambers recently made the U21 Euro side so he has potential.

    Our new German is putting paid to our current defensive one, injured or not he is older and even slower. If Holding continues to improve, he may see the end of Gabriel as well in January.

  14. Excuse me, Orson, [and you know I do not want to be a sh*t stirrer, or anything], but aren’t you the one who insisted that Sanogoals was a good’un, despite yours truly telling you he was el crappo? 😀

    So, you having a down on the Ox — ain’t that a little …… weird??? 😀

    Just askin’ — 😀

  15. CA (MA) @ 3:28

    You are such a handsome doppelgänger for Bergie, that even if you’re talking cobblers — I would have to agree with you!!! 😀

    And I agree with you.

  16. I think the midfield and attack were superb. Xhaka is the mdifielder we have missed for quite some time. Ozil showed why he is intergral to the team especially if Sanchex continues at CF and hats off to Sanchez and Theo who worked their socks off both pressing high and with their constant movement and willingness to run all day.

    Holding was impressive and though its early days, he looks a player. Best thing for him is that he won’t be forced to start witht thr arrival of Mustafi.

  17. Henry, once again you malign me, I have never said anything better about Sanogo than that he is a waste of a good skin.

  18. HenryB:
    CA (MA) @ 3:28
    So are you saying that CA is talking cobblers? Not wanting to stir the s**t, of course.

    You are such a handsome doppelgänger for Bergie, that even if you’re talking cobblers — I would have to agree with you!!!

    And I agree withyou.

  19. Xhaka has some of the rashness Arsenal so desperately need!
    theo and OX both would have scored if they had finished their runs to the far post earlier, and not try and lob the keeper.
    Actually glad for the international break, give Sanchez, Giroud, Kos and Mesut more time for recovery- or at least work on the flexibility. It will also allow Arsene to work in the two new players and see what they can bring to our team in the next game.

  20. Aaron,

    I think you will find that all the players you mention plus Mustafi will be away on International duty if fit. Leaving only Perez to work with Wenger, always assuming that Wenger will not be on his television pundit duty.

  21. Orsen,
    Good point, then those players need to pick up an imaginary injury so they can’t play in a meaningless game.

  22. When you look at Theo and Ox you can see that they keep making the same mistakes every season. This is something you would have thought a good coach would work on in training to develop the players. Players in the past have talked about Wenger allowing them to play their own game, which seems to suggest that there isn’t that much work with the players to develop their skills and match play.
    I can’t actually think of a player who I would say Wenger has developed. He may have spotted that they would be better suited to a different position (Henry as striker), but I can’t really think of a player coming in and improving what they actually do on the pitch. I don’t deny he has given players a platform with quality players around them to work with, I’m just not convinced there has been much player development. Jack still runs into blind alleys, Ox still gets caught in possession and Walcott still tries to go by players when he should be looking to use the pace he still has.

  23. Orson Kaert,

    He tries to carry the ball past players rather than flicking the ball into space to run onto. When he has the ball at his feet he seems to run at defenders and lose it. The odd time he has flicked the ball past players to run on to he has either beat them for pace, or they have fouled him and given up the free kick. Unfortunately he tends to try to go past players with the ball at his feet more than he uses space behind to run on to. Surely a good coach would be working with him to mix that part of his game up more and play to his strengths.

  24. Wavey,

    I think that’s exactly what he is doing now that Ozil is playing balls beyond the full backs, as a central striker it is much harder to make such runs, but now he’s back on the wing he has more opportunity to do so.

  25. It’s ludicrous to think that AW just tells the boys to “go and do your thing”. We have a basic template of play based around keeping possession. I believe players are drilled to play that way by our coaches. How many managers are actually involved in one-on-one coaching sessions with players…I know of Guardiola, yes, others? It’s a matter of individual coaches approach. And as for the ones that scream their lungs and punch shadows, and slide onto the pitch, well, it doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. I’ve seen other top coaches keep their cool even when losing. Idiosyncrasies all that. For me it hardly changes anything on the pitch. But you know showmanship in any profession is a very handy tool to have. It makes people think you actually know what you are doing (…even if you don’t)…

  26. Orsey,

    “that’s what he is doing now that Ozil is playing balls beyond the full backs” Wash your mouth out — he is not playing balls — he is very good. 😀

  27. So glad that people are back to talking pure football. Arsene confirming pure we do not expect any more arrivals somehow put an end to the spectacle of seing gooners having a go at each other (sometime it was not pretty – perhaps a reflection of some of the football we have played in recent years..) during the window. Of course there will always be a degree of revisionism somewhere (ie Arsene has never developed a player, or has never built a wining team because he inherited this and that etc. .) Kudos to Mr YW for keeping his balanced talking points flowing in… and to the regular posters for helping cope with the ‘break’ from real football in the gooneverse..☺

  28. Orson Kaert,

    Got to say its about time then because he didn’t do it as a winger either. The number of times we’d yell from the stands fro him to stick the ball into the space behind a FB to run onto rather than carry the ball to a FB and lose it.

  29. I was worried about Granit as he seemed to be often half a yard short in his 50/50 before yesterday’s game. He now looks to be ready and the three of them in the middle yesterday where really close to their A game. Although I still think more would come from Santi. How much hunger & desire would any of the front 3 show to keep that fast passing game would go a long way to determine how decisive we would be in attack this season.. Theo and the Ox have some more work to do in composure & application in my view

  30. Wavey,

    Ozil hasn’t had the chance to play those balls previously as Walcott has either been playing as a central striker (unsuccessfully) or been injured. Now he seems to be fit and back on the wing let’s give him a chance.

  31. I would be remiss not to acknowledge Nicky who was steadfast in his belief that signings would materialize.
    Well done Nicky !

  32. We’re back to a bit more sanity at last.

    No more comical hysteria about us not signing players.:D

    Thought our early panic buy Granit did really well. He is getting used to the pace of the game in Blighty but the passing from deep is immaculate.

    As mentioned before he is here both to solidify us defensively with Coquelin but also to provide offensive means to prosecute an attack quicker with Santi.

    I like the fact that he is solid looking too. It’s like Arteta 2.0, bigger stronger, younger …maybe not the same lego hair though, can’t get everything right.

    Even Ox is stronger this season. Loved the way Simpson bounced off of him in the Leicester game.

    And Elneny, he looks like his been lifting rocks by the pyramids. He’s got a bit more size this season.

    Holding was very decent too I thought. We won’t hear him mention by the media since we didn’t spend 47m on him of course.

    I also thought Theo put in another good shift. Still think his problem is he tends to lack composure. He needs to take a deep breath and have a look up.

    That’s where I think Perez may have been signed because he looks like he is confident with his technical ability and has his head on the swivel even in the final seconds on the ball.

    Probably not a first choice but certainly has good attributes to work with for Wenger.

    Quick burst of pace, tidy technically. He will need time to adapt.

    I think the fact he has spent a season in La Liga converted from the wings to a central role is also a selling point (and a productive one with 17 goals)

    If we took Draxler in (at high price) we will still need to transition him into the middle. That said it did not take Perez (or Henry) too long to adapt.

    Mustafi is another decent panic buy for 35m ++. Wenger clearly knows how to throw money away. Euro and World cup experienced 24yr old coming into his prime versus a 47m buy for young unproven English player. Love media logic.:D

    Still plenty of work to do.

    City, United and Chelsea are already off and running and we need to catch up.

  33. drazy,

    I’m sure I’ve seen comment from ex-players to that effect. I’m not just plucking it out of the air and to be fair you’ve got to wonder why players make exactly the same mistakes time after time. I’m not talking about the basics of possession-style football etc, I’m talking about the specifics to how a player goes about his job and when I use the term coach I am talking about any coaching at the club, not just what the manager does.
    Maureen was well-known for providing each player with a dossier prior to every match on the team they were up against with specifics for the players as to what they would be up against.
    Maybe that’s standard across clubs, but from our play under Wenger over the years it certainly doesn’t look like it. We’ve generally been poor to adapt our game to the opposition and we seem to struggle more than most against “park the bus” teams because our style of play is so rigid. But that wasn’t actually what I was talking about, I was saying players don’t seem to develop their game and make the same mistakes year in year out at Arsenal. Jack is a prime example in that he always runs into players in the middle of the pitch and tends to overextend himself and get injured. I think I saw comment from Wenger that its just Jack’s style of play, but surely we had him young enough that some good coaching would develop that and adapt his game.

  34. Good balance and options with the team –

    CF : Giroud, Perez, Welbeck
    RW : Walcott, Ox, Gnabry
    LW : Alexis, Iwobi

    AM : Ozil, Ramsey
    CM : Santi, Jack, Elneny
    DM : Granit, Coquelin

    RB : Bellerin, (???)
    LB : Monreal, Gibbs
    CB : Koscielny, Gabriel
    CB : Mustafi, Per, Holding

    GK : Cech, Ospina, Martinez

    On loan – Calum, Campbell

    Academy – Akpom, Jeff, Bielik, Zelalem, Willock

    Think Ramsey is best in the advance position in midfield. Its his instinct to attack the box. With Granit, I think it allows the link player to go forward more and assist the attack.

  35. Running into players.

    If you watch Alexis, he loses the ball A LOT.

    But you do not want to curb him from his better instincts to attack players with the ball.

    Ditto Jack or the Ox.

    Maturity comes with knowing when to do it.

    BUT if you over micromanage, you can take away a lot of the edge they have too.

  36. Orson Kaert,

    Walcott’s obviously been at the club a lot longer than Ozil and I’m really talking about his history as a winger. Surely you’re not suggesting that there was just no-one who cold deliver a ball for Walcott on the wing before Ozil?
    Forget it, not important.

  37. and to clarify things, I don’t think its fair to say Wenger adopts an entire hands off a pproach.

    He is a “jazz” manager.

    He provides the framework and allows the players to interprete the game.

    but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do adjustments and tactics and twiddles with the way the team is set up.

    Selection, set up of players, availability of resource is key but Wenger tends toward an open architecture system (plug and play)

    He has been hampered by market realities and financial restrains so only last couple of seasons has he rebuilt the team sufficiently to have options.

    How he manages his resources is now key. He isn’t a mug by any means (as can be seen by some key victories against City etc) but he has his limits.

    Some times he tends to be too cautious and waits too long to wait for the team itself to turn things around.

  38. who reckons after the international break we are a little under prepared and it takes us a few games to get going?

    nice of watford to have a lazy day and walk straight into our gameplan of hoping they’d be a bit shit….

  39. Wavey,

    Fair to you then.
    But even at that, you have to be careful in working with especially youngsters. You obviously don’t want to blunt their attributes, maybe because you see that that’s what makes them special. You’ll agree with me that part of what makes Jack special is his ability to hoard the ball. Yes he runs into cul-de-sacs sometimes, but I think if he loses that attribute, he simply becomes, well, just Jack. Remeber when we played Barca Cople seasons ago, Nd Xavi was like Damn!
    Ditto for the Ox. His special ability is running with the ball at his feet. Like a CR7 in his prime (…Yes yes I know ), but I believe he can still come good. Frankly, players who Base their game around pace tend to lose the ball.
    As for Theo, well, story for another day….

  40. drazy,

    Totally with you on that. It’s just that you see certain parts of their game which are just frustrating and you wonder why they haven’t learnt. Even if they don’t see it, surely the coaches working with them do. After all, the fans in the stands do. When you have such players from a young age you would think that the guys working with them must be looking at areas like that. Even the rawest talent needs guiding.

  41. 3 points, and a better Alexis.

    Still, Theo and Ox did not manage to score as we did not exploit the space in the second half. And the defence was unnecessarily shaky, which is Wenger’s trademark (which is as much down to the midfield as it is to the back four). Some things do not change.

    So, we played 3 games now, and what about our prospects for the season?

    The amount of points we are going to get from ManCity: 0.
    The amount of points we are going to get from ManU: 0.
    The amount of points we are going to get from Chelsea: 0.
    The amount of points we are going to get from Liverpool: 0.

    It’s a pity that the unbelievable luck of all the big clubs collapsing, when you can win the league with some 80 odd points, does not happen every season, isn’t it, Arsene?

    And with that in mind, we’ll finish somewhere between 4th and 6th.

    And no new signings will help. It’s tactics, game preparation, mentality, squad management. The same story every season.

  42. I find myself agreeing with Wavey. On everything.

    Welbeck when fit is not a CF.
    Perez will replace Walcott on the right and gives us an option through the middle and on the left.
    I like Giroud, but it’s unfair to rely solely on him upfront. What other EPL team does rely on one CF but us?
    Wenger buy a number 9 ffs

  43. of course he’ll still buy one…wait for Higuain. And did someone mention that Welbeck when fit is not a striker? Pray, what the fcuk is he? A winger I hear you say. It’s not even funny. For the avoidance of any doubts, Welbeck is a striker-end of story. You may have your own personal idea of what a striker looks like….tall and powerful like Ibrahimovic, short and nimble like Aguero, elegant and pacy like Auba etc etc. But it doesn’t change the fact that the guy is a striker, and whatever else you get from him is bonus. Several players have successfully made the transition from winger to Striker in the past (..and No, I don’t mean Welbz), Henry is a classic example. Auba is a contemporary one. If I could be really arsed I could get you others, but no, those two would just have to do for now.

  44. I think when we start to put our best 11 down on paper we will see just how many well paid CMs we have on the bench that are used on the wing or mixed around so much that they don’t know their Arsenes from their elbows when they do play.

    If we want more money on the field in crucial areas – like goal scoring, remember the point of this game anyone at Ashburton Grove – then we have to cut down the amount of CMs sucking up our weekly expenditure.

    Never mind paying the fucking staff Arsene.

  45. The Maltese Falcon
    Beat the devil
    Passage to Marseille
    Casablanca
    All thru the Night

    You should be able to pick one of them, Orsey — Yogi will never know! 😀

  46. drazy,

    — “You may have your own personal idea of what a striker looks like…” says you – and yep, I do. 🙂

    Tall (say 6’7″) – physically big (say approx 20 stone) – big Arsenal fan (say like me) and handsome (say like me not like me, but there is nothing wrong with being ugly just like me

    There you are my man, a great profile of a CF – you can be my agent – and make me a millionaire a thousandaire a few quid a bag of toffees, I’m not too proud where the Arsenal are concerned! 😀

  47. Orson Kaert:
    santori,

    “Early panic buy” isn’t that an oxymoron?

    Not necessarily, Orson — I forgot to buy the Fiend a birthday card, when she still let me – and panic set in – I bought her a sexist, typically male stereo type feminine type card, which was really funny and then realised she would kick the sh*t out of me because I was too late sending it — I then realised her birthday was 9-8-2016 (September 8th) and not the (9th August) [why can’t you lot change your date sequences? 🙂 ] — breathed a sigh of relief and sent it to her a month early so she can beat the sugar out of me at her leisure.

    Early panic ain’t no oxymoron! 😀

  48. Henry, it’s Bogart’s bow tie that’s got me stumped. Definitely not the noirish Maltese Falcon, nor Casablanca, one of my favourite Bogey films along with To have and to have not, a very young Lauren Bacall, you do know how to whistle, don’t you? Fabulous.

    Please Yogi, pretty please!

  49. Sorry Henry, not an oxymoron at least in your case. Given your size and the fact of your not remembering The Fiend’s birthday, I think this more appropriate, Oxen Moron! 😀

  50. Casablanca is shown every Xmas, Orson, so that’s the only one I have seen.

    I just looked up what films the two had been in together – so I can’t help you. 😀

  51. That’s great, Orsey, Oxen Moron — that’s my favourite colour!!

    Moron is like a burgundy, reddish Arsenal color. Lovely.

    Hey – wait a minute – was that a misspelling – moron / maroon — I might be wrong here but I am sure I am not a stupid maroon. So, I guess the color is definitely moron!! 😀

  52. Wailesy,

    If you haven’t noticed, there are not too many around of real quality who are available.

    When people start suggesting for us to buy a 33 yr old ex Spu*s player, you realise that actually Welbeck, Giroud, Perez and Alexis are not bad options to have!

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