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.