Resolute Gunners sting Hornets
Arsenal 2 Watford 0
Two goals inside the last 10 minutes made it seven wins on the trot in all competitions for an increasingly confident Arsenal.
Watford can count themselves unlucky for, as time ticked away, it was the away side who appeared the more likely to take home the points.
But where the Arsenal sides of the latter Arsene Wenger years may have lacked the cajones made famous by Watford striker Troy Deney, Unai Emery’s team is beginning to appear a far tougher, more resolute bunch.
Make no mistake about it, this is a game Arsenal quite possibly, in fact probably, would have lost in the past few seasons.
But a string of fine blocks and saves from substitute goalkeeper Berndt Leno, as well as a couple of glaring misses – most notably by Isaac Success just before the Gunners made the breakthrough, allowed Arsenal in to clinch victory.
The first goal came after 80 minutes when substitute Alex Iwobi’s cross was turned into his own net by Watford defender Craig Cathcart, under pressure from the tireless Alexandre Lacazette.
Three minutes later the points were safe. Another substitute, Danny Welbeck, made a fine interception midway through the Watford half which proved both interception and fine pass in one.
It was picked up by Lacazette on the right, whose one-two with Iwobi caught the Hornets’ defence off guard and the Frenchman’s cross was turned home by Mesut Ozil.
The win moves Arsenal above Watford into fifth place in the table, with the Gunners now on 15 points level with fourth-placed Spurs who won 2-0 at Huddersfield this afternoon.
It was Arsenal who should have taken an early lead when Lacazette was allowed clean through after a slip by Cathcart, but the Frenchman clipped the ball wide of the left-hand post.
Arsenal were zipping the ball around nicely but with little end product, and Watford’s best chance of the first-half came when Petr Cech flapped at a crossed free kick from the left, just about recovering to block the follow-up shot.
At the other end Ben Foster kept out a fierce drive from Granit Xakha before Berndt Leno replaced Cech on the strike of half-time for his Premier League debut – the Czech keeper seemingly injuring a muscle when taking a goal-kick.
In the second half Watford started brightly. Deeney’s left foot volley was brilliantly turned round the post by Leno and soon after Watford had half a shout for a penalty for handball against Lucas Torreira, but referee Anthony Taylor was having none of it.
Then came Watford’s best chance of the whole game, when Success found himself through on Leno’s goal but chipped wide of the left-hand post with the onrushing keeper bearing down on him.
Then, in a flash, the Gunners were two up and the job was done.
Arsenal are looking a far more solid unit under Unai Emery this season and his style of play is beginning to become more apparent at the Emirates.
Arsenal are more than capable of mounting a serious top-four challenge this season. Things are beginning to look up in N5.