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Watford v Arsenal

1 – 3

Saturday 27th August

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Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlian, Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez

So it turned out to be third time lucky, the third game of the season finally saw Arsenal gain their first win, and it was no surprise it coincided with the return of the majestic Mesut Ozil to the starting line up.

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Ozil celebrates his goal

On our day, Arsenal still plays the most attractive football in the league, and today was certainly our day. Right from the off Arsenal attacked and played with such vigor, it left Watford at times chasing shadows, and for the first 45 minutes, looked a cut above their opposition. Granit Xhaka (a late replacement for the injured Coquelin) sprayed the ball every angle across the pitch like an American quarterback in a Superbowl, inch perfect passes found their mark every time and allowed Santi Cazorla the freedom of the pitch to dictate play.

9 minutes were on the clock when Mesut Ozil played a beautiful ball through to Sanchez, who whilst jumping to win the ball, was inadvertently bundled to the ground by the Watford defender Nordin Amrabat. The referee had slight hesitation in pointing to the spot, but correctly awarded the penalty which Santi Cazorla duly converted, sending Gomes the wrong way to give Arsenal the lead they deserved.

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Cazorla (19) slots his penalty home

Getting behind was bad enough for Watford, but the fact they couldn’t get near Arsenal to equalize, frustrated them even more. When they did manage to have opportunities to make an opening, they were quickly snuffed out. Rob Holding again impressed and was showing why at $2 million, he will surely be the bargain buy of the season. Arsenal had to wait until 5 minutes before the interval to grab their second, Theo Walcott (who dare I say it, was quite impressive) played a delightful chipped cross that Sanchez just about got enough on, and although the ball was cleared – it had gone over the line beforehand and was rightly given.

The game was then made completely safe in the first half injury time, Sanchez was played in down the left and he had so much time to pick out a cross to the on rushing Ozil, to head home passed the hapless Gomes, much to the delight of the travelling Arsenal fans. 3-0 at half-time was not unjust on Watford, Arsenal was simply too good.

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Alexis Sanchez

The second half followed a predictable pattern, after going 3-0 up Arsenal took their foot slightly of the gas, allowing Watford to gather some momentum. Watford introduced their new summer signing – striker Pereyra, to capitalize on their possession and capped off an impressive display, by firing past Cech, after a bout of ping ball in Arsenal’s box.

That goal gave Watford a huge lift, and Arsenal had Cech to thank for keeping it only one goal with a magnificent double save, a powerful shot from Holebas’s was parried into the path of Ighalo, who could only fire straight at Cech. Now this was a test of Arsenals resolve as Watford had their tails up, but Arsenal kept calm and had Watford at arm’s length for the rest of the match. 3-1 it finished-Arsenal are starting to look good.

Star man – Sanchez (9)

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Arsenal celebrate their win

What impressed me most about this performance, was the fact that you could see Arsenal had finally addressed the ‘spine’ of the team, with the added additions of Perez and Mustafi, Arsenal now has great depth.

Our spine is now this (Spine in bold):

GK: Cech

LB: Monreal CB:Koscielny – CB:Mustafi RB: Bellerin

DM: Xhaka CM: Cazorla

LW: Sanchez  AM: Ozil  RW: Walcott

CF: Perez/Giroud

Perez and Giroud will alternate throughout the season as the main striker, but Perez can also be used as a winger whereas Giroud is purely an out-and-out striker, Alexis can also be used upfront when Giroud is either injured or benched. With Xhaka a certainty to start every game if fit, Elneny and Coquelin can rotate with Cazorla to be his partner, but Cazorla can also fill in for Ozil if he needs a rest.

Add to that spine, Walcott and Oxlade on the wings, Elneny and Coquelin in the middle of midfield, Holding and Metresacker in defense, we have great depth and cover now. So hopefully now, if injuries come –  we have sufficient cover to not disrupt the team and keep the momentum up.

Thanks for reading.

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