Arsenal 2-0 Watford – review
We had the “cojones” today.
We are neighbours in some senses. Our training grounds are adjacent, and Hertfordshire (their home county) borders Greater London. We also have achieved success via style in the past – like Barnes and Blissett in the past for them. Or Wenger for us.
But the difference today was our quality was superior. We weren’t neighbours in this sense.
Watford is no mugs as they say, and started the day ahead of us in the table.
And they didn’t play that badly here. They clearly had a game plan from the off, to try and frustrate us, and get in our faces and be physical. And it worked somewhat. In the early part of the game, they got behind our defence and had some chances.
We were also not very sharp, and it told since we didn’t’ create many chances. In truth, we were pretty poor throughout the opening 45 mins and were very sluggish.
Lacazette used good strength to create an opening, but couldn’t convert it in the end.
The second half was better, but Watford too had opportunities. Success didn’t succeed (as it were) with a chance similar to Lacazette’s at the same end and should have done better.
Moreover, they brought a good save from Leno (who replaced Cech in the first half) and had a few other half-chances.
Emery brought on Iwobi, and then things changed. His pace and energy allowed us to fashion openings, and this told when he assisted an own goal. It looked at first Lacazette scored it, but then he did well to force the defensive error.
The second also had Iwobi’s touch, since Ozil slotted home from 12 yards after some good work from the right.
This was winning ugly, but Iwobi made it more beautiful.
This was not a vintage performance. Watford warrants their high league placing, and it’s pretty much telling in how they approached this game.
A draw, possibly, could have been a fairer result. But what was key for me is that we matched Watford’s physicality. They were looking to rough us up, and they did, but it didn’t succeed. The only success they had today was one of their player’s surname.
But we won ugly and were able to keep a clean sheet to boot.
Is this the dawn of a new Arsenal? Have the weaknesses of the latter Wenger years been rectified? Who knows? But this win was reminiscent of the Wenger glory years, in that whilst we played stellar football, we often won ugly. Because we had the players to play gloriously when we could, and rough it with the best of them.
We didn’t have the fluidity in the first half, and us starting slowly is pretty concerning in some form. We were like this vs. Everton, and this forty-five-minute football could catch us out.
However, our better flair players were the difference today, and we capitalised on this no doubt.
Defensively, we were strong too, with Holding standing out here. He bossed Deeney et al, and whilst they had chances he won every challenge and made many key clearances.
Cech’s injury looked bad at the time, but Leno may prove to be a ready and able replacement. As for Xhaka, his long-range distribution was very good, which is his strength as a player. He’s evidently not a DM, and needs others (Torreira) to provide this cover for him.
As for Mr. Cojones, he was quiet throughout. I personally have nothing against him, but it was funny to see the stick he got. Sometimes in life, in my mind, it’s not what one says, it’s how one says it. And this is why we despise him so.
Emery also needs to fix the attacking structure. Aubameyang was pretty isolated and doesn’t look himself as a wide-man. I feel overall we were a bit lucky today, but then we had the quality that Watford didn’t. This was the Everton game replayed, somewhat. I’m happy we got the win though, and on to FC Qarabag and Azerbaijan.
Cech – 6
Monreal – 5
Mustafi – 6
Holding – 8
Bellerin – 6
Torreira – 6
Xhaka – 7
Ramsey – 4
Ozil – 6
Aubameyang – 4
Iwobi – 8
Welbeck – 5
Leno – 6
Emery – 6 – Senor Jefe made the changes that won the game, though our slow first half start wasn’t good.
Man of the match – Rob Holding
Rob Holding was a rock at the back today.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.