Well, that was fun. Another good performance and another win by three goals. I think I can get used to this.
Before the game, a lot was made of how tough a team Watford is on their home soil and you could see why: the Hornets started the game at a really good pace, were organised, put men behind the ball and gave very few chances away in the first half. In fact, barring a weak header from Walcott (!), a cracker of a shot from Sanchez and a scythed effort from Ramsey, I do not recall us conjuring up anything else.
Watford also had their moments. Deeney’s stinging low shot was well-parried by Cech, Troy then messed up a simple pass to send Ighalo one-on-one, before the Nigerian decided to dive in the box, when a shot could have been a much better decision.
However, one thing was obvious: we had a plan. One which we’ll call…
The Grand Plan
If the trick against United was to start well because it’s obvious the Devils need time to get into the game this season, the trick against Watford was to tire them out. Something Wenger basically admitted in the post-game presser:
“To beat Watford you have to be completely committed to the game. We faced a Watford team that was well organised and knew exactly what they wanted to do. They were very physical in the challenge and very strong in the challenges and very direct. These three things together, it took us a while to get on top of that. In the second half, the fatigue coming in, Watford came in less in the challenges and we got the ball quicker in transition and were much more dangerous.”
We showed maturity to our game once again. Seeing it was hard to break down a physical Watford side, we just kept the ball and made them run around a bit. After fatigue crept in during the second half, our blitz showing left Watford out cold inside 12 minutes.
Were the goals particularly outstanding? No, but they were all team goals and featured a moment of brilliance in the build-up. For the first Cazorla split the entire Watford’s defense to find Ozil, for the second Ozil’s cutback was delicious and for the third was preceded by a cracking run from Hector Bellerin. Ake will have nightmares about the Spaniard for a while now.
Some individual moments
I was very glad Ramsey got on the scoresheet, to start with. The Welshman needed that goal, however scrappy it turned out to be. Aaron may have his flaws, his position on the wing definitely doesn’t help get the best out of him, but Rambo will always have my respect, simply because he never hides. He never shies away from the ball or his defensive duties, he always keeps trying. I think he ran furthest at Vicarage Road, definitely among Arsenal players and he also tops the league in terms of sprints made. Rambo has an unbelievable engine, he is also a huge asset for the team, for that he has my backing.
Sanchez got another goal (I think he has 10 in 6 appearances for Club and country), while he is supposed to be out with a groin problem. I’ve stop wondering how this is possible, the answer looks obvious: Alexis Sanchez’s sheer willpower and desire to play every minute of every game outweigh everything.
A word on Mesut Ozil, also. Our midfield maestro notched two assists yesterday (he now tops the league in the regard), but what’s more important, he now equals Riquelme’s all-time assist record, tied on 181. Mesut only just turned 27. Words aren’t enough to express how happy I am to have him on board.
Finally, Ollie Giroud. Man scored his 4th league goal on the night, 3 of these from the bench (he made a total of 6 substitute appearances). He now has two more goals than Walcott, who gets far less stick. However, that’s not a criticism of Theo, I believe he is doing very well in the lone forward role. Furthermore, I believe these two work brilliantly in this combination. I feel like a fan who has won the jackpot at a Top 5 Online casino website, pretty chuffed.
Per Mertesacker, the slow defender
Per had a couple of dodgy moments yesterday, two stand out: on both occasions he failed to get back into position because, well, his recovery speed isn’t great. However, people calling for his head surprise me: do they realise that on both occasions Mert was essentially covering for Monreal and Bellerin, as the duo were caught high up the field? It’s not like Mert failed to cover for himself.
Speaking of how well he did:
- 94% pass accuracy (51/54, no misplaced passes in our third)
- 8 ball recoveries
- 3 interceptions
- 8/8 clearances (7/7 headed)
- 2/2 tackles
People need to get their head around one thing: Mert’s game isn’t based on speed, so not having it doesn’t make the BFG a bad defender. Like Mikel “his legs are gone” Arteta, Per’s weapon of choice is positioning and both are pretty damn good at it.
Another point is that Per has a calming influence on our defense. He is a leader, whatever others will have you believe and our back four looks more organised with Mert in it.
Wrapping it up
It was another good day in the office. We got the job done against a resilient Watford side and we got it done when it mattered. City predictably thrashed Bournemouth, while United swatted aside a hapless Everton, so we needed a win to stay in the mix. We did just that. Onto Bayern now.
I’ll be back with a preview of that game.